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Estate Planning in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve probably heard about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has created a global pandemic. Well in case you were in fact living under a rock, in the United States, governors have shut down schools, restaurants, salons, and other nonessential businesses in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

Cases and Deaths Related to Coronavirus in the United States

According to the CDC, among the 54 jurisdictions reporting cases, (50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands), there have been 10,442 cases and 150 deaths related to the Coronavirus, (COVID-19) and the numbers are rapidly increasing. Of the reported cases, the source of exposure is currently unknown for 94% of the cases and 2.78% and 2.97% were exposed during travel and close contact, respectively.[1]

While research indicates that older adults, particularly those with serious underlying health issues are at a higher risk for severe (COVID-19) related illness and death, there have been cases reported in each age group.

The World Health Organization and U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) provided lists of precautions to protect you and your family’s health. While it’s important that everyone takes steps to prevent the illness, there are no guarantees that you won’t be exposed and contract the virus.  While panic and anxiety are understandable because it seems that we have no control over the situation. However, you still have control of what happens if you contract the virus.

Let’s not panic over the things that we have little or no control over. Instead, let’s focus on the things that we can control- your estate plan. Estate planning allows you to maintain control of your family and your wealth.

Estate Planning Documents to Consider When Preparing for Coronavirus

Every family member above the age of 18 should have at a minimum, the following documents:

Durable Power of Attorney– allows you to give a representative the legal authority to manage your affairs, to include your finances, in the event that you are unable to do so.

Medical Directive- In some states, it’s referred to as a medical power of attorney or living will, allows you to appoint an agent and provide detailed instructions regarding the type of medical care that you do or do not want should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on your behalf.

Medical Release Authorization Form-authorizes your healthcare providers to share your medical records with the appointed person. Access to your medical records is important when making informed decisions regarding your medical care.

Will– allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor child, appoint an executor to manage your estate upon your death, distribute your assets and disinherit potential heirs.

A more comprehensive estate plan may be ideal and should be considered when time permits, however, given the current pandemic, it may not be feasible.  For residents in Maryland and D.C., contact Reed Sherman Law Firm to create an estate plan that will help to ease your anxiety during this time of uncertainty.

[1] These numbers are increasing daily. Please check with the Center For Disease Control for the latest figures.