Life is full of surprises. This is something that the pandemic has driven home for all of us. It’s crazy to think about how fast our lives changed. Remember February 2020? Kids were in school. Employees commuted to the office. We were all living in blissful ignorance to the fact that our lives were about to flip upside down by what was lurking right around the corner.
One lesson we all learned pretty quickly was that each and every one of us is susceptible to an illness. Even for relatively young people and families who appear to be in good health, it is critical to have a will and other estate planning documents in place. This is one of the most important things to take away from our collective battle through the peak of the pandemic.
1. We Should Have A Plan In Place, No Matter Our Age
Over 2.1 million people in Virginia have been infected with COVID, and, sadly, over 22,000 have died. Hospitalization rates continue to be rather high even though more than half of the state is now completely vaccinated. Although it is true that the Coronavirus is more likely to be fatal for unvaccinated individuals, the elderly, or those with pre-existing diseases, the virus has nonetheless claimed the lives of over 4,500 Virginia residents under 50. According to the statistics, people of this age group have a far lower likelihood than people of previous generations of having an estate plan in place.
2. Technology Helped Us All Manage
During the peak of the pandemic, we got a healthy (or sometimes perhaps unhealthy) dose of technology to keep us all going. From Thanksgiving dinners on zoom to hilarious work-from-home zoom bloopers and everything in between, technology played a big role in giving us some semblance of normalcy. This goes for us at Promise Law as well. We remained committed to informing and empowering clients through free resources and blogs, virtual and on-demand workshops, and remaining as flexible as possible. Indeed, the resources and educational tools are still available on our website and continue to be updated regularly!
3. Don’t Forget About Your Plan B
It is extremely important to have alternate representatives named in your estate planning documents. These back-ups are individuals who can take over the duties in a position and are authorized to communicate with the medical professionals responsible for our care, manage finances, etc.
This is true even after the peak of the pandemic passed. If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, then yes, your partner or spouse or adult child could be the ideal person to make those decisions for you. But what if they are in the hospital bed next to you due to an unforeseen accident or illness? Although no one likes to contemplate the possibility of a terrible event befalling their loved ones, it is essential to account for various possible outcomes.
4. The Right Time To Plan Is Now
Life will always be hectic. An illness of any kind is no respecter of persons. Diseases, conditions, and other ailments won’t care about your marital status, your children’s age, your title at work, and what your investment portfolio looks like.
We shouldn’t wait until the moment there is a medical emergency before we get started. The combination of the naturally elevated emotions that accompany an emergency with the frantic hurry to get something, anything, in place causes judgment to become muddled, which is when errors occur.
5. Communicate With Your Healthcare Agent
The pandemic has taught us that life (and health) can turn on a dime. One of the best things you can do now is to communicate with your healthcare agent (the person you appoint to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself) about the things that you would or would not want to be done for you in the event of a life-threatening event. It is the responsibility of the health care agent to act as the patient’s advocate and to make judgments based entirely on the preferences expressed by the patient. If you don’t have a healthcare agent, it is time to visit an experienced estate planning attorney.
Life happens. Plan on it.™
The future is filled with uncertainties, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for some of them. We invite you to browse our site to discover more about what we do and how we can assist you in protecting your loved ones and your legacy. From our educational blog posts that are a quick, easy read to our informative workshops, we are committed to client education. When you learn more, you’ll feel more confident that while it is kind of scary, you are up to this important task. We want to help you succeed.
If you’re looking to start (or finish!) estate planning, why not call us to set up a consultation or attend one of our free educational estate planning workshops? We would be delighted to speak with you to get started!