What are the basic estate planning documents to consider during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?
In addition to following CDC guidelines and the Stay at Home Orders issued throughout Missouri, there are estate planning documents you should consider in the event this health crisis impacts you or your family.
Everyone should have a few basic documents and take steps to protect their titled assets:
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
You may appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf through a durable power of attorney for health care. If you become incapacitated, this document allows the person you designate to make decisions regarding your medical care in consultation with your physicians.
A HIPAA authorization should be included with this document so that your designated agent can access your protected health information.
Health Care Directive
If a medical condition renders you persistently unconscious, your health care directive – also called a living will – is a declaration to your physicians, loved ones, and appointed health care agents about which procedures you wish to have provided to you or withdrawn if such procedures would only unduly prolong the dying process without any likelihood of recovery.
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions
You may appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf through a durable power of attorney for financial decisions. This document allows the person you designate to pay bills and make other financially sensitive decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and cannot do these things for yourself.
If you have assets titled in your own individual name without a beneficiary designation, these assets will become part of your estate upon your death. Assets such as bank accounts, life insurance, certain retirement accounts, and annuities allow you to designate a beneficiary to receive those assets upon your death.
If you have not done any of the above, you should take steps to do so – this is true anytime, but especially during this crisis. You should have an attorney prepare your power of attorney documents to ensure they are valid and enforceable under Missouri law.
A will and/or trust should likely be part of your estate plan; however, ensuring you have the above documents in place will provide the necessary protections for you and your loved ones. With the uncertainties brought about by this global pandemic, taking the above measures will give you peace of mind knowing the basics are taken care of now.
All of us here at Raza & Jones, LLC, understand what a challenging time this is for our clients. As a family law firm, under St. Louis County’s Order pertaining to COVID-19 we are considered an essential business, and we will remain open and available to all our clients. The entire firm is working remotely, using our Zoom account to meet with clients or speaking by telephone. We are committed to delivering the same high standard of compassionate, effective representation we’re known for, in the face of rapidly changing circumstances, and our attorneys will be there for you every step of the way.
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Raza & Jones, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.