Estate Planning: Essential Documents to Prepare During the Pandemic

There are a few basic estate planning documents everyone should have on hand in case the COVID-19 pandemic or other health crisis impacts you or your family. Here are a few basic documents and steps that can protect your 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physicians, loved ones, and appointed health care agents about which procedures you wish to have provided to you or withdrawn if such procedures would only unduly prolong the dying process without any likelihood of recovery.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.

Beneficiary Designations

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.

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today.