SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While many people take extra precautions to protect themselves from the coronavirus, this pandemic is an uncertain time for your health.
When people are going into an uncertain time, whether they’re traveling, preparing for a surgery or even moving, it’s common to think about having a will and a plan for whatever may come. Estate planning professionals say this pandemic is another important reminder to have that plan ready
“Every person who is over the age of 18 should have at least three basic estate planning documents in place,” Attorney Travis Benson with Thompson Law Estate & Business Planning said.
In addition to having a will for your possessions and property, Benson says everyone should have legal documents ready for a medical crisis.
“A comprehensive estate plan is not just planning for your death, but it’s also planning for during your life if you were to become incapacitated,” Benson said.
It’s why you should have a property power of attorney who can help continue to pay your bills, a HIPAA authorization to give others access to your medical status and a health care power of attorney to help make decisions for your care.
“We really want people to have these things in place before a crisis hits, we want them to be able to talk to and make a well-informed decision on who should be their power of attorney for health care and make those decisions when they’re not able to make those decisions,” Stacy Reitmeier, the Director of Care Transitions at Avera McKennan Hospital said.
Reitmeir says having that plan in place is especially important during this pandemic.
“One of the things with COVID 19 that we’ve seen is patients have really deteriorated very quickly, so sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to make those decisions,” Reitmeir said. “As well as without having many visitors or family members in the hospital to be with patients, it’s really hard to know what their wishes are when they can’t tell us that, so having a power of attorney on file for us, gives us a quick access o help make those decisions because things can change very quickly.”
Right now estate planners, like Benson, are able to meet people for contact-free will signings in person or even online.
“The Supreme Court of South Dakota during this pandemic had some guidance for attorneys and other estate planners that you can sign documents remotely or over the internet,” Benson said.
Experts also say its important to have some conversations with your power of attorney before a crisis hits so they’ll know how to effectively communicate your wishes to your medical team.