Even if you have done comprehensive estate planning with the guidance of a qualified attorney, you may want to re-evaluate certain elements of your plan now, through the lens of the coronavirus pandemic.
Why? There are two uniquely challenging aspects of this pandemic that your current plan may not adequately address.
- Medical treatment for severe cases of COVID19 frequently involves intubation and ventilator therapy to combat respiratory failure … and
- Quarantine and isolation orders blocking hospital visitors create some communication barriers between patients, doctors and family members.
How might these unique challenges impact your estate plan?
Living Wills (Also called Advance Medical Directive). If your living will or Advance Medical Directive contains a blanket prohibition on intubation, you may want to reconsider that decision.
Durable Powers of Attorney (DPOA). Given the communication difficulties that may arise when a patient is hospitalized during this pandemic, you may want to revisit the terms of your DPOA to make it easier for your agent to act on your behalf.
Health Care Proxy (Also called the Medical Power of Attorney). A health care proxy or Medical Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone else to act as your agent for medical decisions. Under normal circumstances, this person would likely confer with your attending physicians in person and again, these in-person communications may be difficult right now. You want to add language to expressly authorize electronic communication with your agent.
A qualified estate planning attorney, who focuses exclusively in this area of the law, can advise you on whether your current plans accurately represent your wishes during this uniquely challenging time.
Resource: ElderLawAnswers, Three Changes You May Want to Make to Your Estate Plan Now Due to the Pandemic, April 30, 2020