COVID-19 and the unprecedented efforts being taken to prevent its spread have turned the world on its head and brought into focus the importance of preparedness and planning in all aspects of life.
For governments, being prepared means having effective response plans in place to combat the health and economic damage caused to the people they serve. For businesses, being prepared is having established plans to allow them to adapt to new circumstances and to continue operations.
For individuals, what first comes to mind in being prepared and planning is probably having enough savings tucked away to get through a tough time, or having enough food and supplies stored for their families. What often gets over looked, even in the best of times, is planning for you and your family’s future in the event of a serious illness, or even death, of a loved one.
COVID-19 has probably provoked the question, “What happens if I or a family member get sick?”, in most people. Having an effective estate plan in place can provide some answers to that question and help you prepare for and navigate some of life’s challenges.
Just as each person is a unique individual, each person’s estate planning needs are unique. Some people may require relatively simple documents, such as a will, power of attorney and health care directive to be adequately prepared. Others may need additional tools, such as a trust, to make sure their plan will be effective when it is needed.
On April 8, 2020, the Governor of the State of Maine issued an executive order allowing for the remote notarization of documents. Planning documents can now be executed without being in the same room as the people witnessing and notarizing the documents, so you can plan without putting yourself, or others, at risk.
A planning document that is particularly critical during the ongoing pandemic is a health care directive. A health care directive provides instructions about the care you want if you are unable to make the decisions for yourself. A copy of the directive should be given to your physician, hospital, and family, so they can use it for instruction if necessary. Health care directives are a key part of anyone’s estate plan and can be completed independent of the rest of your plan if desired.
Whether you are young or not as young as you once were, whether you have a lot or a little, whether your budget is big or small, there is a plan that can fit your needs. While we all work through our new day-to-day realities, establishing an estate plan can help you and your loved ones navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and many of life’s future ups and downs.
Perkins Thompson and Maine Center Elder Law have the experience and tools necessary to assist with your estate plan. Please reach out to us at (207) 774-2635 or (207) 467-3301.