Time and experience have shown that having a Last Will and Testament (a Will) and Directives (Health Care Power of Attorney and Financial Power of Attorney) are some of the most fundamental acts of kindness you can show toward your loved ones. These Ohio estate planning documents help your family know your wishes and avoid unnecessary hassles and costs upon your death or incapacity. Planning for the future and unknown is essential to your peace-of-mind, too. That is why every adult—young, middle-aged, or old—should have an estate plan.
In addition to a Will, you should have a set of health planning documents, known as advance directives, which includes a living will and a health care power of attorney. These documents will protect your loved ones from having to “guess” at what to do should you become incapacitated by an accident or illness. No one wants to be forced to make difficult decisions in the midst of emotional turmoil. Finally, a financial power of attorney similarly allows a person of your choosing to manage your affairs if you’re unable to.
Preparing these important documents doesn’t have to be complicated—or expensive. A free estate planning consultation with Graham & Graham can help you gain some peace of mind during this uncertain time.
Why You Should Care Now
In light of current events, it may be even more important to have an updated Will, Health and Financial Power of Attorney, and other estate planning documents. Although the chances of dying or even being hospitalized from COVID-19 are very low, while you are stuck at home with more time on your hands—or especially if you are working in a high-risk job—now is a good time to establish (or bring up to date) your Will and directives to make your wishes known.
Because COVID-19 is a new disease, health experts still have a lot to learn about it. Based on existing data, the CDC concludes that older adults and people of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness of death from the coronavirus.
Individuals in these categories should be particularly proactive about estate planning. But as we previously explained, everyone needs a Will. And if you haven’t already, you should additionally document the type of care you’d like to receive and designate a person to make decisions for you if you become unable to communicate.
The Last Will and Testament
Your Will can determine who receives your assets—including real estate, cash, stocks, business ownership, family heirlooms, and vehicles—when you die. For people with minor children, your Will also can determine who will raise your children in the event of untimely death.
Dying intestate, or without a Will, leaves the question of who gets what in the hands of the state. This often leads to a messy dispute between heirs. According to one authoritative study, only 55 percent of adults age 55 and older have Wills, while an estimated 23 percent of Wills are out of date. Graham & Graham recommends updating your Will every three to five years to reflect major life events such as health or financial changes.
Patients with severe complications from COVID-19 (or who experience any type of traumatic event) may end up on a ventilator that makes it difficult or impossible to speak. Other reports have described coronavirus causing patients to become unconscious or enter comas.
Ohio’s Advance Directives allow you to address your medical future in the event that you are too sick to make your intentions known.
- A Living Will lets you decide and document in advance the types of care you wish to receive if you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill and unable to communicate. For example, you might express your wish to receive (or not receive) tube feeding.
- The Health Care Power of Attorney enables you to designate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf, once your doctor decides you can no longer make these decisions independently.
- A Do-Not-Resuscitate Order states whether you wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your breathing stops or your heart stops beating.
Another document to consider is a durable Financial Power of Attorney. This document grants a designated person the legal authority to control your finances while you are incapacitated. Under a durable financial power of attorney, your chosen representative can pay taxes and bills, manage investment accounts, and take over business and banking responsibilities on your behalf.
Take Control of Your Legacy
Graham & Graham’s Ohio estate planning attorneys can help you create or update your will, medical directives, and other legal contingency plans. There may be legacy issues you haven’t considered, such as funeral plans, social media accounts, and charitable donations. Most of these matters can be handled over the phone and online. Start making plans today: Schedule a free case consultation.