These are confusing and scary times for many people. We are all changing our routines and trying to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this new threat and its economic impact. Many people are now wondering if they really have their affairs in order and if not, whether they should take that leap.
There are a few documents that you should have in place in case you get sick during this time (or any other time!).
The most important documents you can have while you are alive are Powers of Attorney. You should have one for finances and one for healthcare. These documents give authority to someone you trust to help you with these things when you can't do them yourself.
If you're stuck in quarantine and need someone to go pick up prescriptions or go to the bank on your behalf, a Power of Attorney gives them the authority they need to help you out. If you can't speak for yourself and medical decisions must be made, a Power of Attorney gives the person you trust the right to make the decisions they know you would want.
There is no reason not to have Powers of Attorneys. You do not give up any rights when you sign one. You still get to make all your own decisions and the person who helps you must follow your directions if you're able to give them.
Another very important document to have during this crisis (and any other!) is a Healthcare Directive. This is the document that tells people what you want at the end of your life if you can't speak for yourself. It outlines whether you want heroic measures used to prolong your life or whether you prefer that you are allowed to pass peacefully. The document itself can be as detailed as you want it to be and you can use it to communicate to your trusted loved ones exactly what you would want to have happen. This is not only a source of comfort for you, but also for the person who must make these difficult decisions on your behalf.
I will follow up with some more blog posts about estate planning documents that everyone should have, but these documents, Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Directive, are the most important documents anyone can have while they are alive.
Stay safe and take care, everyone!