Why is an Estate Plan So Crucial During COVID-19?

One of the most unsettling aspects of a pandemic situation is how quickly a virus can spread. We see news accounts of people who were otherwise healthy developing a dry cough, and then quickly seeing their conditions accelerate until they are in the hospital on a ventilator.

These accounts, when responsibly delivered, are not intended to inspire fear and panic. These reports are merely in place so that we might know the worst-case situations that are possible so that we can plan accordingly.

The speed that COVID-19 can spread is alarming, certainly. Even for people who fully recover and return to their regular lives, the initial onset of the virus can be surprisingly swift.

This rapid progression of symptoms is one primary reason why people are writing and updating their estate plans right now.

Having a valid and up-to-date Will in place is one concern, certainly. Of similar importance are documents such as health directives, health care power of attorney (i.e., what procedures do you want to approve or disapprove if you become incapacitated), and DNR (do not resuscitate) orders.

The shift from coherent, full-capacity work to illness can be rapid. And during that descent, there are a million other concerns to be thinking about. Making sure your family is safe and cared for during your hospitalization; making sure your workplace is ready for your prolonged absence; doing what you can to prevent the disease from spreading more quickly.

Since that move can happen so fast, it is of more importance than usual to have those crucial medical and financial documents in place. To “get your affairs in order,” as the timeworn phrase goes.

What does it take to prepare that paperwork? Not a great deal.

The people working at the law firm can handle the lion’s share of the work. You make sure these documents lay out precisely what you would like to see happen with your assets, with your property, and with the care for your family and other loved ones.

Just as important as the death-related documents are those directives relating to your hospitalization. There is a set of documents that cover what would happen should you become incapacitated – unable to speak, or answer questions. What kind of medical work would you approve? How would you want them to handle a ventilator or a feeding tube?

You may be concerned about undertaking such planning while we are all under Shelter In Place orders.

That is a valid concern, but rest assured that we can proceed with all of this work while still abiding by the state orders.

Most of the work can be done over email, from the comfort and safety of your home. We may have some telephone conversations, but almost all of it can be done over email.

If and when we do need to meet in person – likely only once to sign completed documents — we can always stay more than six feet away from you, and we will all wear masks to protect ourselves.

Ohio’s regulations for social distancing and shelter in place are very clear, and we follow those orders carefully. Your safety and protection are of utmost importance to us, and we will do everything in our power to make sure our personal interactions are just as careful as our estate planning paperwork.

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