While it is still hard to tell how the coronavirus will impact us in the long term, it has become a subject that is impossible to ignore. While some are advocating that we prepare to be quarantined, potentially for months, others are saying the virus is nothing more than a common cold. The World Health Organization takes a more middle-of-the-road approach, advising that we take precautions without becoming alarmed. We are going to take a similar middle-of-the-road approach and empower you to make informed decisions for you and your family so that you can be prepared, but not panicked.
People Most Susceptible to the Coronavirus
For your reference, here is a link where you can track infection and death rates over time. As you can see, the numbers are increasing daily. Most of the people who die from the coronavirus are over the age of 60, and people who have chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes have a 5–10% higher chance of dying from it.
Estate Planning is Always Important
As the coronavirus has progressed, there has been an increase in people contacting our office to ensure that their affairs are in order. For many, it has taken this global scare to push them to finally put mechanisms in place to protect their family and property. While now is a good time to ensure your estate planning documents such as your will, living trust, power of attorney, and advance health care directive are in place and up-to-date, I should note that it is always a good time to make sure this important task is completed.
We are always at risk of becoming incapacitated or deceased — even when there is not the coronavirus seemingly taking over the world by infecting and killing thousands of people. Did you know that the World Health Organization estimates that 290,000 to 650,000 people die annually from the flu? Or that 1.25 million people die in car accidents every year with an average of 3,287 deaths per day? An estimated 37,000 people die from car accidents in the United States alone each year. The numbers make it clear that we are always at risk of incapacity or death. However, it is times like these when there is a global sickness receiving ample media attention that really thrusts estate planning to the forefront for many people.
Estate Planning Is Not Just About Your Money
Estate planning is often misunderstood. Some people think that estate planning is only for those with money and if you don't have much money, then it isn't worth the time, cost, and effort. However, estate planning is about way more than just money.
Estate planning is not just about protecting your money from unnecessary taxes or from being lost to Hawaii's unclaimed property program, which currently has hundreds of millions of dollars that got there because people did not have an estate plan or had one that was incomplete, for example. Estate planning is more than keeping your money in your family and keeping it from predators, lawsuits, creditors, or divorcing spouses.
Estate planning is about protecting your children. Ensuring you have named guardians for them in a Will and in a Kids Protection Plan. It is about keeping them out of the care of strangers, Child Welfare Services, foster care, or anyone you would never want to be with your children even temporarily with a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan. It is about ensuring they are raised by the people that you want and in the way that you want — no matter what.
Estate planning is about ensuring your wishes are honored in the event of your incapacitation so that you can determine the quality of life that you want and you can have the final say regarding your health care even when you can no longer speak for yourself. It is about taking the burden off of your loved ones during this trying time and telling them exactly what you want so they don't have to guess.
Estate planning is about passing on more than just your money including your stories, values, knowledge, and even the sound of your voice so future generations can know who you were and where they came from. It is an opportunity to guide future generations long after you are gone.
Estate planning is about ensuring you have an experienced advisor throughout your life to help you to make the best decisions for your family and to keep your estate plan working as intended. It is about making sure your family has a trusted lawyer in their corner to help them when you are no longer here.
Estate planning is so much more than just about your money and sometimes it takes something like the coronavirus to put things into perspective.
Ensure You Have an Updated Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
We hope you and your family stay healthy and safe, but in the event you or a loved one gets sick and needs to go to the hospital, it is important to indicate any medical procedures or treatments that you do or do not desire. Additionally, you should name the person or people authorized to make health care and financial decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.
You can authorize a trusted individual to make health care decisions on your behalf as well as state your wishes regarding your health care in an advance health care directive. It is essentially a power of attorney for health care and it is sometimes called a living will.
You should also authorize a trusted individual to make financial decisions for you in a durable power of attorney. We can help you prepare these documents and more in our office, either to take precautions against coronavirus or for any other reason. Please get in touch if you are ready to get this handled and would like our help.
We are always here to support you to make educated, informed, and empowered decisions for yourself and the people you love.
Be vigilant. Be prepared. Be safe. But, don't panic.
This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, a Honolulu estate planning law firm. 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 calling 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.
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