By Dan Barney

The COVID-19 epidemic has created special concerns related to estate planning. In fact, the virus has expedited the need for many to update their plan.

Although it appears that with boosters, etc., the serious threat to life is minimized, there is also the threat of the new variants to keep us vigilant.

If nothing else regarding planning the pandemic has made us aware of mortality and everyone’s vulnerability. Good practices should continue even as most have gained the protections of the vaccine.

1. The threat of sickness or death has made many people especially aware of a need to update or initiate planning.

2. Such planning can be particularly important for those who are most vulnerable, i.e. due to sickness, disease or age.

3. Particular concerns arise due to the need for sequestration and social distancing as it affects those in nursing homes, hospitals or other confined medical environments.

Some are self explanatory, such as the inaccessibility to nursing homes or other living facilities. However, most hospitals are simply inaccessible to persons other than the patient themselves. This creates special issues whenever even a non-COVID hospitalization occurs.

So what should you do to protect your heirs, children, grandchildren, and yourself?

1. Most important is a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care so that you have a person designated who could make decisions for you in the event you are on a ventilator or otherwise incapacitated.

2. Accordingly, you need someone who can manage your finances – pay bills if you cannot do so.

3. Thirdly, under the worst scenarios, you should have a Living Will regarding life support.

4. Ultimately, a Will would be important to ensure that your assets are administered by the person you desire and that they are distributed as you wish.

In most of the above, two witnesses and/or a notary are required so signing should be done long before any admission to a hospital or other facility. To accomplish witnessing and notarizing, special care will be required to ensure safety such as masks and distancing.

Estate planning was identified as an essential activity. Therefore it can be accomplished, including execution outdoors if necessary.

Even in spite of the additional freedom that the vaccine has given us it is wise to plan ahead.

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