Don't Panic over Pandemic: Make a Plan for Coronavirus
Two nights ago, I stopped at the local store on my way home from work. I noticed that they were completely out of hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and disinfectant spray. It's not uncommon for things to run out in Steamboat Springs, but I couldn't help thinking that it was more than coincidence.
We've all been hearing such scary reports on the news about the latest iteration of coronavirus: COVID-19. This respiratory infection is spreading quickly, and quarantines are happening across the world. If you're feeling fearful, the best thing you can do is channel some of that nervous energy into checking your plan. Do you have all your ducks in a row, in case the virus spreads to Steamboat Springs?
Create a Comprehensive Kid Safety System. If you have kids, this is absolutely the most important step you can take to being prepared in the event of any emergency. A comprehensive plan for your kids means: designating permanent guardians AND temporary guardians. It means having emergency health care documents for your kids in a place where they can easily be found and accessed. If you're not there to care for your kids, even for a short time, such as if you are delayed on your way back from a work trip, you want to be 100% sure that you have done everything possible for them to legally stay with people who love and care about them.
Your Emergency Health Care Documents Should Be Readily Available. If you've already done the work of making an estate plan, make sure it can be found when it's needed. Tell your loved ones, those named as Power of Attorney or Health Care Agent, where they can easily access your documents in case of an emergency. You want to include your Living Will, HIPAA Authorization Form, and your list of emergency contacts too. You can file these with your primary care physician, your local hospital, and with a service such as DocuBank, so they are available 24/7.
Check Your List of Current Medications. You should always have a list of prescription medications that is available for reference with your emergency medical documents. This helps doctors and other health care providers understand if the best course of action if you require hospitalization. Including information on this list such as: which doctor prescribed the medication, why you take it, and what pharmacy you use is all very helpful not only to health care providers but to your agent as well.
Contact Human Resources or Your Life Insurance Company. Beneficiary designations can be make-or-break to an estate plan. If you've had a significant life change, such as a marriage, birth of a child, or a divorce since you last checked your beneficiary designations, you want to make sure they are up-to-date and in line with the plan you've set up with your attorney. If you have a life insurance policy through your office, contact human resources to make any changes. If not, contact your life insurance company directly.
What's that? You don't have life insurance?! This could be the perfect wake-up call for you to get a policy.
Establish or Replenish Your Emergency Fund. While it's great to be stocked up on bulk foods from Costco in the event of a quarantine, having extra cash on hand will never do you harm. If you haven't restocked your emergency fund since the last time the car broke down, now is a good time to review where your money is going. 40% of Americans don't even have $400 to cover an unexpected expense, so if you can get together a few months of living expenses, you will feel more financially secure and ready for an emergency.
While we always hope for the best, estate planning attorneys know how to plan for the worst. If it's not COVID-19, there are always good reasons to prepare for the unexpected. Planning helps you retain control in otherwise difficult situations, and it gives you the comfort of true peace of mind.
Do you want those benefits for your loved ones? Contact an estate planning attorney by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 970-879-1572.