March 17, 2020
What if I catch COVID-19? What if I am so sick that I can’t pay my bills or make medical decisions for myself? My family doesn’t know how to take care of me – what do I do?
I am sure, if you are watching the news, you are seeing the daily reports of more presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Maine – it’s almost impossible to miss right now. What is happening across the country (and world) is certainly causing a lot of confusion and turmoil. Just trying to figure out how we are going to negotiate our everyday lives is no longer a simple decision.
It might feel like the world is in chaos, but there are steps we can take to start to reclaim some of the control over our lives. Being prepared is one of those steps, and I’m not talking about buying all of the toilet paper in Penobscot County. I’m talking about making sure your legal documents are in order so that if you do come down with COVID-19, your family and friends know what medical care you want, and someone can make financial decisions for you (and, since you’re already here, you might as well get your Will done, too).
An Advance Health Care Directive will give you the comfort you want in knowing that you have both designated someone to make medical decisions for you and you have provided guidance for your medical Agent to obtain that care – all in one document. Without this document, medical providers might find themselves struggling to find someone to reach out to if you can no longer communicate your wishes. The State of Maine has prepared a basic Advance Health Care Directive that you can print out and complete on your own. It covers the basics and will get you by. It can be found here: or by visiting https://www.nhpco.org/wp-content/uploads/Maine.pdf
A Financial Power of Attorney gives a designated Agent the ability to handle your finances, so you’re protected if you need that assistance while sick. This document can grant a broad range of powers that cover everything from paying utility bills to making sure your tax return is filed on time this year. I consider this document to be the estate planning document that is most needed in life, but that most people do not have.
Finally, a Will tells your family what to do with what you own if you pass away. I know this is not something we want to think about, but doing this planning is something we can do to try to protect our families and our assets.
If you already have all of these documents in place, this is a great time to sit down and review them. Make sure they are up-to-date and that they say what you want them to say.
If you don’t have these documents or if they need amending, give us a call to schedule a meeting. The best part is that this planning can take as little or as much time you need it to.
This information is accurate as of March 17, 2020, and is subject to change based on any new legislation.
Candace T. Augustine, Esq.