The coronavirus has caused a lot of anxiety, and one of the most googled questions right now is “do I need a will?” According to a 2017 study, nearly 42% of Americans said they have a will or another type of estate planning document. Fast-forward to 2020 and that percentage is now 32%. That’s nearly a 25% decrease in the number of Americans with a will or other estate planning document!
A will, along with other important medical estate documents, is very important to have, especially in times like these.
A will is a legal document that lists your wishes after you pass away, such as where you want your assets to go and who the guardian of your child will be. If you die without a will, otherwise known as dying intestate, the probate courts will decide how your assets will be distributed, which may differ from how you would have wanted.
Within a medical context, there are three very important estate documents to have in place. The first is a HIPAA Release Form which gives someone you trust access to your medical records. Without this authorization, doctors won’t be able to discuss your medical situation with your loved ones.
The second important document to have in place is a medical power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy. This document comes into play when you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, and this person can make decisions for you regarding medical treatment. Usually this person is someone such as your spouse or close family member.
Another medical document that is important to have is an advanced medical directive, otherwise known as a living will. This document allows for you to direct what kind of health care you want to receive ahead of time. For example, if you are on life support, an advanced medical directive lists your wishes as to whether you want to continue life support or not. This document also allows for you to remove the responsibility of making these decisions from your loved ones by stating your wishes ahead of time.
We know that these are scary and overwhelming times, but we will get through this! Please reach out to us if you have any questions.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice and we suggest you discuss your specific situation with a qualified financial advisor.