by Attorney Maggie A. LaBranch-Gonzales
Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law
If you’ve heard me speak in our seminars or workshops, or you’ve had the pleasure of meeting with me at the office, I can imagine you hearing my voice right now (kindly) reminding you that we all die. (Way to be blunt, right, Maggie?) But, seriously, for me, the most important part of Estate Planning is not necessarily what happens when you’ve passed away, but whether you are adequately prepared for what may happen during your life.
I think that the coronavirus is a stark reminder to ask yourself—Are you prepared? And I don’t mean washing your hands, wearing a mask and having an emergency supply of water and food. I mean having an Estate Plan that is going to cover you in a life emergency.
At a recent news briefing, Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters: “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease,” she added.
According to the CDC, “Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed.”*
So, I ask you, if you were quarantined in your home, do you have the proper documents to appoint someone you trust who you have authorized to make your financial decisions? Someone who could go to the bank for you, pay your mortgage, speak with your broker, etc.? Do you have the documents that are going to allow a third party to go to the bank, talk to your broker, etc.? If you were sick and at the hospital, do you have the documents to appoint someone you trust who you have authorized to make your medical decisions? If you are sick and incapacitated, will this person have the authority to ensure you receive proper medical attention based on your test results (hopefully negative for coronavirus) and according to the treatment you would want? If you do not have a comprehensive Estate Plan in place, then your family, friends, or trusted loved ones will be forced to go to Court and obtain a Conservatorship in order to make sure you are adequately cared for.
Now, I am not trying to scare you. I am giving you a real-life, real-time example of WHY it is so very important to have a comprehensive Estate Plan and one that is up to date.
If you are concerned about your Estate Plan, or you do not have one, feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment or attend one of our upcoming seminars or workshops.
In the meantime, I am kindly reminding you of the importance to wash your hands (for 20 seconds which is about the time it takes to sing through “Happy Birthday” twice), cough or sneeze into your arm or tissue and stay home if you are not feeling well. In this case, sharing is definitely not caring.