The pandemic has changed everything – including how Estate Plans are drafted. The unique aspects of the health crisis exposed some weaknesses in estate plans that were never thought of until COVID-19. Some estate planning documents contain language which under normal conditions is fine but may cause problems if you fall ill during a pandemic.
Here are three examples of language you may want to edit:
You may want to rethink your Living Will if it contained a blanket prohibition on intubation. The treatment for COVID-19 was intubation to try and save lives, not prolong them. Blanket prohibition language should be reviewed and edited to list your wishes correctly
Power of Attorney
If your power of attorney requires a note from a physician as proof of incapacity has occurred, you may want to consider changing this requirement. During the pandemic, doctors were so busy that there was little time for writing letters, which could delay your agent’s ability to act on your behalf.
Health Care Surrogate Designation.
Under a Health Care Surrogate Designation, the person appointed to act as your agent would confer with the doctors in person to make medical decisions on your behalf. That will likely be impossible during a pandemic as family members were not allowed in the hospital with sick patients. Language that expressly authorizes electronic communication with your agent needs to be included in your Health Care Surrogate Designation.
Heidi S. Webb, Attorney at Law, serves clients in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Melbourne, and beyond with Estate Planning and Probate.