While thankfully Long Island is gradually reopening, and the rate of new cases of COVID-19 are drastically less than when the pandemic was at its height, some experts remain concerned about a possible second wave during the fall flu season. It is therefore important to take what lessons we can from the past few months to help us plan for the future.
When a crisis hits, having essential planning documents in place can ease the burden on your loved ones and allow them to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Imagine a loved one suddenly struck with this disease and hospitalized. They have bills to pay and medical decisions need to be made on their behalf immediately. With no documents in place, there may be no person with the legal authority to handle their finances, which could spell financial disaster. For health care decisions, there can be conflict among multiple children who have default authority to make decisions, confusing the overworked doctors and nurses. And if there are no express wishes for end-of-life treatment that loved one with an irreversible condition perhaps is kept alive when they otherwise would have preferred to be permitted to die naturally. These tough decisions in unbearable situations can be avoided.
Here are some of the essential planning documents everyone must have:
Power of Attorney
This important legal instrument allows you to name a trusted loved one to make financial decisions for you. The person you name to make financial decisions on your behalf will become your agent, and you will be referred to as the principal.
Health Care Proxy
A Health Care Proxy is used to designate someone, called your Health Care Agent, to make medical decisions on your behalf and to communicate your health care wishes to doctors if you cannot do so yourself.
Your Living Will is a written statement that explains your desires pertaining to end-of-life care. The Living Will includes your wishes and instructions concerning life sustaining measures, such as artificial respiration, artificial hydration and nutrition, CPR, and pain management.
Last Will and Testament
For when the unthinkable happens, the most essential and basic instrument in your comprehensive estate plan is your Last Will & Testament. This is a legally binding declaration of how you wish to have your assets and property divided upon your death.
These documents are essential to have regardless of your age, but are especially important for seniors. This pandemic can strike anyone, and you should be prepared if something unexpected happens. Contact Cona Elder Law today to start your estate plan. Our experienced attorneys are available to meet safely in our office or virtually by video conference.
In addition, New York State executive order 202.41 recently extended the ability to have your estate planning documents signed, witnessed, and notarized remotely until July 13, 2020.