It's never too late.
It’s never too late to grow, improve, and take the next step to protect yourself and your family. Contrary to popular opinion (or misconception), estate planning is not reserved for the rich and famous. Everyone deserves to know that their family will be cared for and their wishes will be faithfully carried out.
Recently, my phone has been ringing off the hook with people who are naturally concerned and frightened given the current COVID-19 pandemic. And it is highlighting several key issues that each and every person deserves to understand.
The most important thing that I want you to know is that you can start now! No matter where you are in your life journey, there are some simple and effective steps that you can take right now.
The first is to set up an Advance Healthcare Directive (“AHCD”). Simply put, an AHCD is a document that you create to designate someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. This person is called your “agent” and they are legally designated to make decisions for you based on the directions that you give them. With the high level of hospitalizations currently resulting from the SARS-COV-2 virus and the resulting COVID-19 infections, everyone should have advance healthcare directive in place so they know exactly what types of treatment you want, who your preferred doctor is, and most importantly, which treatments you do not want.
The second is to execute a Power of Attorney (“POA”). A POA is a document that you execute to name someone as your “attorney-in-fact”. Contrary to a licensed attorney, this “attorney-in-fact” is your legally designated representative who can handle and manage all of your legal and financial matters in the event that you are incapacitated due to illness or disability. Just like the agent in your AHCD, your attorney-in-fact can only exercise the powers that you give them. They are duty bound to place your interests above their own. And when properly executed, the POA is an effective and valuable tool for everyone! Imagine if you were stuck at home or in the hospital and you couldn’t pay your mortgage, access your bank account, or sign closing documents on a property. Having someone in your corner who can step into the breach is vital.
The third, thing that you can do right now is update your beneficiary designations on your accounts. Whether you have a simple checking account or hundred thousand dollar brokerage account, you can speak with your financial institution to make sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date. If you have valid beneficiary designations then the funds in those accounts will go directly to the named beneficiaries when you die.
Those are three quick and straightforward steps that you can take right now to protect yourself and your wishes as we work our way through these challenging times. Of course, there are additional considerations and more planning techniques that I would be more than happy to discuss with you further. But those three will get you well on your way and hopefully bring you some peace of mind.
As always, stay safe, keep calm, and be well!
If you have any questions about Advance Healthcare Directives, Powers of Attorney, or beneficiary designations, please do not hesitate to contact your friendly neighborhood estate planning attorneys at Hedemark Law, P.C. by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org calling (415) 692-1503, or book time with us directly by clicking https://www.hedemarklaw.com/book-online