As you already know, the COVID-19 pandemic means nothing is business as usual. Many states, including Hawaii, have implemented a “shelter-in-place” or "stay at home, work from home" order to limit the spread of the disease; however, if you are not in a place with such an order, or if your parents are not following it, you may want to refer to our previous blog on how to talk to your parents and get them to stay home.
Once you have attended to your (and your parents’) immediate needs, it will be time to consider more long term precautions.
In this time of stress and chaos, your parents may be resistant to talking about estate planning. It may feel too pessimistic to plan for the worst in the midst of a scary situation. However, that is exactly why it is the most important time to do so. Plus, since hopefully you are staying inside, you may actually have the time to dedicate to getting these tasks taken care of.
Here are actions you can, and should, take to ensure you and your family are protected both legally and financially.
Update Your Health Care Documents
Above all, you first need to ensure that both you and your parents have advance health care directives. This will be an invaluable reference point for those who are assisting you, whether they be friends, family, or medical professionals. This directive should include instructions on your preferred methods of care.
You must also clearly state who will be in charge of handling your affairs in the event of your death or incapacity. Even if you have done this already, I urge you to take out any existing documents now and review them. Have your circumstances changed? Do you have additions to make? You might want to add language that will allow you to receive care for COVID-19 if you end up in the hospital. If you have used an online form document or another DIY document, check to see if it prohibits intubation. Some do. Encourage your parents to review their health care directive too and to communicate with you about what their directives say.
If you are unsure whether your advance health care directive is in tiptop shape, let me take an expert look at them.
Create a Personal Resource Map/Asset Inventory — an Inventory of Everything That Matters
You might think that only the very rich need to worry about making specific plans for their assets. But not so fast. Do you have investments or a retirement account? Physical things like jewelry, musical instruments, or furniture? What about cryptocurrency? Or even social media accounts? In the event of your incapacity or death, your family members will not know where to look for what you have, or how to access it, unless you have planned for that ahead of time.
Somewhere between 49 and 80 billion dollars are currently unclaimed, or unable to be claimed, by family members of people who have passed away. This is money that individuals may have forgotten they had, or that they made no provisions to pass on to their family after they died. That is why it is extra important that you create a personal resource map or asset inventory to tell your loved ones where everything is and how they should move forward according to your wishes.
This is something included with all of our estate plans, but if you have not worked with us to create your plan, you should make a personal resource map or asset inventory yourself. Include things like accounts, account numbers, etc.
Wisely Maximize Your Access To and Use of Credit
Financial experts often recommend a rainy day savings account, and it seems that the rainy day has come. Whether or not you have a sizable savings, you should also maximize your access to credit. Getting approved for a higher credit line is good to do sooner rather than later. If you find yourself in a position where you need money quickly (to afford a medical expense, for instance), you do not want to be scrambling to pay the bill.
Some people might balk at the idea of applying for more personal credit, particularly people who are afraid of debt. Think of it, however, as a worst-case precaution. You can get approved for credit even if you have a decent amount of savings — just as a backup.
Remember that it is never an inappropriate time to plan for the future. It is also always a good time to ask for legal and financial help. As they say, we are all in this together, and we are here to support you, virtually now, as well. You can get legal protection in place for you and your family now completely online. Handling this important planning has never been easier.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have a signed agreement. Therefore, all information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should contact an attorney trained to work with families on estate planning matters regarding your specific situation. Use of and access to this website or any of the email links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC and any users or any other party.