As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic means nothing is business as usual. Many states have implemented a “shelter-in-place” order to limit the spread of the disease. Those that haven’t will soon need to do the same.
In this time of chaos and upheaval, it may feel too pessimistic to plan for the worst. But that’s exactly why it’s the most important time to plan. If you are staying at home, you may even have some extra time to dedicate to getting your planning taken care of.
Here are some things you can be doing to ensure you and your family are protected, both legally and financially.
Update Your Health Care Documents
First and foremost, you need to ensure that both you (your aging parents and your adult-age children) have health care directives. These documents, which includes a Massachusetts Health Care Proxy, HIPAA Authorization, and Living Will, will be an invaluable reference for those who may need to make medical decisions for you. This directive should include instructions on how you prefer your medical care to be handled. Contact information for each of your doctors should also be included.
You must clearly state who will be in charge of decision-making in the event of your incapacity. Even if you already have these documents in place, it is extremely important that you review any existing documents you have to be sure the people you have named are still appropriate for the role. Encourage your parents to do the same thing and to discuss with you what their directives state. If you are unsure whether or not your health care documents are up to date, call us – we can take a look and review with you.
Create an Asset Inventory – A Record of Everything That Matters To You
Do you have bank, investment or retirement accounts? Life Insurance? Do you have personal items that are important to you such as jewelry, furniture, or artwork? Even social media accounts? In the event of your death or incapacity, your family members need to know about these items, where to look for them and what your wishes are surrounding them.
In Massachusetts, billions of dollars go unclaimed every year, often by family members of the deceased. This is money that individuals may have forgotten they had or neglected to leave instructions on who to pass on to after they died. Creating an asset inventory indicating where everything is, as well as account numbers, makes it easier for your family members to distribute items according to your wishes.
Wisely Maximize Your Access to and Use of Credit
Most of us have been told since we were children – save for a Rainy Day! Well, for many of us, the rainy day has arrived. Whether or not you have significant savings, you should also maximize your access to credit. Getting approved for a higher credit line is better done sooner, rather than waiting. If you find yourself in a position where you need money quickly (to pay for medical expenses, for instance), you don’t want to be left with a bill you can’t pay.
Some people who are cautious about debt, may question this tactic. Think of it as a worst-case precaution. You can get approved for credit even if you have a significant amount of savings.
Remember, it’s better to have a plan and not need it, than need a plan and not have it. The time to plan is when you are healthy, before a crisis strikes. Plan now and have the peace of mind knowing if anything were to happen, you have done everything you can to protect your family and loved ones.
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