The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an unprecedented effect on our society, and elderly adults are at a particular risk of falling ill. While staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this virulent illness, there are also legal steps you can take to safeguard your family’s future in the event that you do contract the virus. Keep reading to learn about some of the most crucial estate planning actions to take during this time of uncertainty.
Designate a Healthcare Surrogate
Nothing is more important than your health and the health of those you hold dear. As COVID-19 continues to spread, both nationally and around the globe, one of the most essential tasks you can undertake is designating a healthcare surrogate. Along with receiving medical information from your doctors, this individual will have the legal power to make health decisions, such as approving surgery, in the event that you’re unable to do so.
Review Your Living Will
Because the novel coronavirus can affect the respiratory system, some patients end up requiring a ventilator to help them breathe. One of the benefits of creating a living will is that you can designate whether or not you want to receive life-prolonging treatment, such as being put on a respirator or kept alive artificially, in the event that you fall ill. Creating a living will helps ensure that your wishes will be protected while saving your loved ones from the difficult task of making these decisions in your stead.
Designate a Medical Power of Attorney for Minors
As a parent, you want to know your children are protected no matter what. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to designate a medical power of attorney for them. This individual will have the authority to take your children to the doctor, hear medical information, and if necessary, make choices about their care.
Get Your Will in Order
In the event that the worst comes to pass, it’s crucial that you have an up-do-date will that expresses your wishes. One of the benefits of living in Arizona is that the state does acknowledge handwritten or holographic wills, provided that they are signed by the testator and that material provisions are designated in the testator’s own handwriting. Referring to those items left to beneficiaries, material provisions may include money, property, and other elements of your estate. Additionally, your will should reveal in writing that you intend to dispose of your property and possessions. The document does not need to be witnessed to be valid in this state.
Review Your Living Trust
A living trust gives a designated person, or trustee, the power to manage your assets for one or more beneficiaries. To protect your family’s future, take time to review your living trust and make any necessary updates. Note that, without a living trust, your beneficiaries will receive funds and assets in full upon your passing. If you want these assets dispensed more gradually or on a specific schedule, having a living trust is essential. Additionally, you should consider whether or not the trust has been funded with assets, as this step can help you avoid probate court.
Failing to designate a beneficiary for certain assets can result in your will going through probate. Fortunately, you can save your family from this stressful process by choosing a beneficiary for bank accounts, IRAs, annuities, and life insurance, among other resources. In some cases, you may want to designate a second beneficiary in the event that the first one predeceases you.
Choose a Financial Agent
Whether you’re suffering from coronavirus or another illness or injury, circumstances may arise in which you’re unable to make financial decisions for yourself. For this reason, designating a financial power of attorney is essential. As your agent, this individual will have the legal right to make financial decisions on your behalf while you’re unable to do so. In particular, business owners should review their financial power of attorney designations to ensure they’re comfortable with these choices. Doing this helps protect both your company and your assets should the worst come to pass.
Work with an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney
At JacksonWhiteLaw, we’re here to address all your questions and concerns regarding estate planning and coronavirus. From wills and trusts to Arizona estate tax issues, our knowledgeable team of estate planning attorneys has the experience and expertise to assist you and your family.
Call our Arizona Estate Planning team at (480)467-4325 to discuss your case today.