The Covid-19 pandemic has all of us thinking about the future and about our own mortality. Even if you are young and healthy, there are no reliable prediction tools for how the coronavirus will impact you if you contract it. Some patients never experience symptoms while others suffer terribly. In far too many cases, contracting the disease is fatal.
This time of great uncertainty actually comes with an opportunity to plan for the parts of your future which you can control. All of us need an estate plan anyway, and the current pandemic may just be the excuse you need to prioritize creating one. And in addition to the standard tools like wills and trusts, you should also be focusing on designation of a patient advocate and your instructions regarding medical care.
PLANNING DOCUMENTS GO BY MANY NAMES
Sometimes they are called living wills. Other times, they are known as advance directives. Sometimes they are named for the provisions they often include, such as durable power of attorney for healthcare.
Whatever you call them, it is important to have a written plan in place that both states your preferences for medical care and designates someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated (unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself).
OVERVIEW OF ADVANCE DIRECTIVES
In Michigan, advance directives often contain the following elements:
A person designated as your power of attorney for health care, also known as a patient advocate or health care proxy: Someone who makes medical decisions for you when you can’t do so yourself
A living will: The document in which you state your wishes for medical care in a variety of scenarios, including which life-sustaining treatments may be used (your patient advocate will work with and respect this document to the extend possible)
A do-not-resuscitate order: An OPTIONAL inclusion in your advance directive if you do not want to receive life support or any extraordinary life-sustaining treatments
Donation of an anatomical gift: Specification that you would like to be an organ donor if you pass away
One significant possibility if you contract Covid-19 is the necessity of being put on a ventilator. Do you want this treatment? Are you aware of the potential risks and side-effects? How long would you want to be on a ventilator if you weren’t showing signs of recovery? These are all important questions that you can address in in your living will and discuss with your patient advocate
GET STARTED BY CONTACTING AN ATTORNEY
Estate planning is often easier than people assume it will be. If you are ready to get these important financial and medical decisions down on paper, contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can walk you through the process.