The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is dominating the national conversation, and with good reason. It is a highly infectious and potentially deadly disease, and we have no vaccine for it.
The reality is that most of the population will not likely become infected with this coronavirus, and most of those who are infected with it will not have critical symptoms.
Still there is a fear that each one of us and our loved ones potentially may die from COVID-19. That fear highlights the fact that many of us have not planned sufficiently for when we die or if we become gravely ill.
Maybe you have been putting off this planning. Maybe you have not wanted to confront the possibility that some day you might become incapacitated or die due to a pandemic, car accident, stroke, heart attack, or dementia. Does that sound like you?
If so, you’re not alone. Nobody wants to think about these things.
What’s more important is not leaving your loved ones in a position where they need to make critical decisions for you without having enough information to know exactly what you want. You also don’t want to put your loved ones in a position where they have no authority to help you.
There is no reason to panic.
Now that you have purchased your toilet paper and all the food and other supplies that you need to hunker down at home and self-isolate for a while, it’s a good time to make sure that your wishes will be carried out if you do become infected with this coronavirus. It’s something we all should consider regardless of COVID-19.
First, ask yourself, “Who do I trust the most?” Maybe it’s your spouse. It could be one of your children or a close friend.
Whoever it is needs to have the intellectual and emotional strength and the willingness to carry out your wishes. Further, consider their health, life expectancy, decision-making ability, and diplomacy. The primary purpose for naming them is to provide them with the power to make decisions for you after you are incapacitated or deceased. Hopefully you have at least two or three people in your life who fit that description.
Second: Think about what you want. Who do you want to make your medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself because you are unconscious? Who do you want to receive your assets when you pass away? If you have children younger than 18 years old, how do you want them to be cared for if you cannot do it?
These are difficult questions to be sure. It is better to address them than to be unprepared, which could create emotional and financial hardship for your loved ones.
Third, put your wishes in writing. This is called estate planning. The types of estate plan documents vary from person to person. In California, a good estate plan typically includes a trust, a will, a power of attorney, and an advance health directive.
We can help with that. At Meinzer Law Firm, P.C., we have been helping clients with estate planning for 17 years. We excel at understanding your desires, explaining things to you in plain language that is easy to understand, and drafting documents that satisfy your desires.
We are open for business, despite the California and Los Angeles County shutdown orders. Our physical office is closed temporarily due to those shutdown orders. Still we are working with our clients by telephone, video conference, and e-mail to help them during this challenging time of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
Having these documents in place will ensure that your assets, finances, and health care will be managed for your benefit by someone you selected and trust if you become unable to manage your affairs. Further, they will ensure that your assets pass at your death in the manner that you want with a minimum amount of delay and expense.
If you have these documents already and you have had them for a long time, then you should consider updating them. Perhaps there have been significant changes in your personal situation since you signed them. There also have been changes to laws during the years that impact existing estate plan documents.
Fourth, and this one also is very important, discuss your estate plan documents with the people who you have named to help you. Especially discuss the advance health directive with them. The best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out is to have a conversation about your wishes and ensure that your loved ones have a clear understanding.
Again, at Meinzer Law Firm, P.C., we are ready to help you through this uncertain time of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Please call us at 310-375-3350 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you.