We are living in a very uncertain time. As institutions close and families shelter in place, our loved ones are closer to us than ever before. On the other hand, social distancing requires that we establish barriers between friends and family members, namely the older adults in our lives.
As we face these new times with dignity and grace, there are a few legal documents that we can put in place to help us preserve our own autonomy amidst the uncertainty.
Advanced Medical Directive – This document appoints a Healthcare Agent: someone who handles your health decisions if you can’t communicate. It also includes a Living Will which outlines your medical preferences and guides doctors in deciding how best to treat you if you can’t communicate. Hospitals across the state are assuring patients that they will be contacting Healthcare Agents remotely as family and friends are not allowed into the buildings during the crisis. To fill out the form electronically visit: https://mydirectives.com/
Financial Power of Attorney (POA) – This document appoints a person to make decisions about what happens to your property, assets, and insurance while you’re still living. If you become ill, you may be unable to pay bills or go to the bank. A POA allows for these types of transactions to be performed by a trusted appointee who can act on your behalf.
A Will – This document names someone to handle your estate and names the guardians of any minor kids. It also says where and to whom your assets will go, and will authorize payment of funeral expenses. Also consider “beneficiary designation” for your bank accounts, car, insurance policies, and your home by using a Life Estate Deed.
These past few weeks remind all of us that life takes unexpected turns. If you haven’t gotten around to doing your planning or if you’ve wanted to update your documents, this pandemic is a reminder that there is no time like the present to take care of these important decisions.
And while doing your estate planning while maintaining social distancing might involve a bit more planning, it still can be done. For example, the governor has suspended the requirement for notarizations during this pandemic, which removes a barrier to completing these documents remotely. Read the order here.
MVLS volunteer attorneys can assist qualifying individuals in completing these documents remotely. To connect with an attorney for free, contact the MVLS intake line at 410-547-6537 or 800-510-0050 Monday-Thursday from 9am-12pm or apply online at any time.