What we have learned over the past 3 weeks is that the COVID-19 pandemic means nothing is normal. There is NO business as usual. Finally, state after state has implemented a “shelter-in-place” order in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease; still every day we come across people and populations who are not following the mandate.
Once you have attended to your needs, the needs of your children and your parents’ immediate needs, it will be time to consider more long term precautions.
In this time of stress and chaos, many people continue to be resistant to talking about estate planning. It may feel too pessimistic to plan for the worst in the midst of a scary situation. However, that’s exactly why it’s the most important time to do so. Plus, since hopefully, you are staying inside, you now have the time to get these tasks taken care of.
Here are actions you can, and should, take to ensure you and your family are protected both legally and financially.
Update Your Health Care Documents
Above all, you first need to ensure that both you and your parents have advance care directives. This will be an invaluable reference point for those who are assisting you, whether they be friends, family, or medical professionals. This directive should include instructions on your preferred methods of care and the contact information for each of your doctors.
Review and Update Who Speaks for You When You are Unable to Speak for Yourself
You must also clearly state who will be in charge of handling your affairs in the event of your death or incapacity. Even if you have done this already, I urge you to take out any existing documents now and review them. Have your circumstances changed? Do you have additions to make? Encourage your parents to do the same thing, and to communicate with you about what their directives say.
Here’s an article to read, and share with your parents (AND ADULT KIDS, if you have them) on the 3 parts of a Health Care Directive, and the 5 things you want to look for in your Health Care Directive right now, to ensure it’s up to date for COVID-19.
If you are unsure whether your Health Care Directive is in ship-shape, call us, as your Personal Family Lawyer®, to take an expert look at them.
Create a “Personal Resource Map”—an Inventory of Everything That Matters
You might think that only the very rich need to worry about making specific plans for their assets. But not so fast. Do you have investments or a retirement account? Physical things like jewelry, musical instruments, or furniture? What about crypto? Or even social media accounts? In the event of your incapacity or death, your family members won’t know where to look for what you have, or how to access it, unless you’ve planned for that ahead of time.
Somewhere between 49 and 80 billion dollars are currently unclaimed, or unable to be claimed, by family members of people who have passed away. This is money that individuals may have forgotten they had, or that they made no provisions to pass on to their family after they died. That’s why it’s extra important that you create a “personal resource map” to tell your loved ones where everything is and how they should move forward according to your wishes.
To help you make your own personal resource map, and to help your parents make theirs, you can go to http://www.personalresourcemap.com/ or call us direct and we’ll walk you through it.
Wisely Maximize Your Access To and Use of Credit
Financial experts often recommend a rainy day savings account, and it seems that the rainy day has come. Whether or not you have sizable savings, you should also maximize your access to credit. Getting approved for a higher credit line is good to do sooner rather than later. If you find yourself in a position where you need money quickly (to afford a medical expense, for instance), you don’t want to be scrambling to pay the bill.
Some people might balk at the idea of applying for more personal credit, particularly people who are afraid of debt. Think of it, however, as a worst-case precaution. You can get approved for credit even if you have a decent amount of savings—just as a backup. If you need reassurance, or if you need some help encouraging your parents to get approved for a higher credit line, you can contact us to walk you through your options.
Remember that it’s never an inappropriate time to plan for the future. It’s also always a good time to ask for legal and financial help. #WereAllInThisTogether and we’re here to support you, virtually now, as well, even when nothing is normal. We can take care of you, and your family, fully online. Call us, we’re here.
This article is a service of Cris Carter Law, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge. Or, schedule online here.