End-of-Life Planning During a Pandemic

Sarah J. Randall

Author: Sarah J. Randall

POST DATE: 8.1.22
Ccha  Estate Planning

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives forever. It was also a wake-up call for many to get their affairs in order and do some end-of-life-planning. In fact, the number of 18 to 34-year-olds with estate planning documents has increased by 50% since the pandemic started. As we have learned, life can take a quick and unexpected turn, so are you ready?

CCHA end of life planning blog graphic

Why Is Estate Planning Important?

Contemplating and planning for your own death or incapacity isn’t a fun subject. It’s something we like to push off for another day or a more convenient time. However, the pandemic has taught us that our lives can change instantly, so it’s best to be prepared.

You Can Plan for the Unplanned

Unexpected death or incapacity can happen in an instant. For example, if you were to contract COVID-19 and could no longer manage your own affairs, what would happen? Who would care for your loved ones? Who would pay your bills or make medical decisions for you? With an estate plan, you can make all of these decisions ahead of time. This relieves your family from the agony of guessing what you might have wanted. Estate planning may also prevent your family from having to go to court to appoint someone to care for you.

Estate Planning Gives You Control Over Your Assets

Without an estate plan, you give up control over your money and property. If you die without a will, your state’s intestate succession statute applies. Under this law, certain family members inherit your estate based on their relationship to you. This default law can have a significant impact on your family and leave loved ones without an inheritance. However, with adequate estate planning, you can avoid the laws of intestate succession.

What Documents Should Be Part of Your End-of-Life Planning?

Of course, no two estate plans are the same. Each person has different assets, finances, family dynamics, and goals. However, there are a few fundamental documents to put in place.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament (or will) is where you communicate your final wishes. In your will, you can select an executor to handle your estate and appoint a guardian for any minor or disabled children.

Advance Directives

End-of-life planning is mostly about making decisions in advance. Here are some ancillary documents that you may want to include in your estate plan.

  • Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that grants someone (the agent) decision-making authority over another person. You can limit the agent’s authority to act or leave it broad, and you choose when the document takes effect. For example, with a durable power of attorney, the agent can make financial decisions for you if you lose your mental or physical capabilities. You can also execute a medical power of attorney, which gives the agent the power to make decisions regarding your medical care.
  • Healthcare representative appointment: If a time comes when you can’t make your own decisions about medical care, you want someone you trust to do that for you. By appointing a healthcare agent, you can select a person who knows you well to communicate your wishes. Your advance directives can provide guidance on pain management, organ donation, artificial nutrition and hydration and more.
  • Trusts: A trust is a legal entity that owns property and is managed by a trustee for the benefit of someone else. Not everyone needs a trust, but they offer significant benefits for those who do. This estate planning tool is ideal for those who want to set money or assets aside for a specific purpose or person.

How Often Should You Update Your Will?

With a will, you don’t “set it and forget it.” Ideally, you want to revisit your will every five years or whenever a significant life event occurs. For example, if you get a divorce, retire, have another child, become a widow, or receive a substantial inheritance, you may need to update your will.

Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Church Church Hittle + Antrim

The pandemic made us realize how fragile life is and that nothing is certain. Let us help you prepare for whatever lies ahead. For the last 140 years, we have been providing exceptional legal services to our clients throughout Indiana. Together, we can create a thoughtful and strategic estate plan that gives you peace of mind. To schedule a consultation, call one of our offices or contact us online.