“What should I do if someone in my family is infected with COVID-19?” This is the question we are getting from clients.
An important, inexpensive step you can take is to have Power of Attorneys. There’s a common misconception that a Power of Attorney (POA) is only necessary if you have a large estate, but assigning POA early allows for prompt solutions.
What is a “Power of Attorney?”
A Power of Attorney can cover anything from “who makes decisions for me if I am medically unable to make them for myself?” to “what happens to my bills if I am hospitalized?” and they answer an array of other questions.
Right now, one of the most powerful tools in your planning-for-COVID-arsenal is the ability to form a Power of Attorney ahead of time. There are two (2) forms of a Power of Attorney. The first is a Power of Attorney over your Finances, the second is a Power of Attorney over your medical decisions. (We will deal with Health Care Directives in another blog post.)
Power of Attorney over Finances
If you become ill or are unable to make decisions for yourself, who should make financial decisions for you?
Who do you feel comfortable in assigning this responsibility?
How will your rent or mortgage get paid?
Does someone have access to your bank account?
Do you have emergency funds in place to hold your finances over?
Is someone able to access the funds that you saved?
The answer is to delegate someone well in advance. You can assign a person- any person you are comfortable with- to have access to your account(s) to make those decisions if you become incapable of carrying on. And it’s a fairly simple process.
Let’s look at a practical way this issue can arise amidst the ongoing crisis:
Financial POA Case Profile:
You have $8,000.00 total. $3,000.00 in checking account from your last paycheck, plus what you keep in your savings account for emergency purposes.
You contract COVID-19, have difficulty breathing and have to be hospitalized. During this time, your mortgage still needs to be paid. Your electricity bill still needs to be paid.
There are other people living in your home who financially rely on you to make your payments on time, whether it’s a roommate, a spouse, or a significant other. Regardless, none of these people have access to your $8,000.00 to make the payments while your hospitalized, leaving your bills unpaid, creating a wide array of other issues from eviction, foreclosure, or simply not having your lights turn on.
It is so easy to TAKE ONE SIMPLE SMART STEP. Right now, you are not sick. You know the risks of the virus ahead of time.
With a phone or online appointment an affordable Power of Attorney over Finances, the situation becomes manageable.
Now your sister has a list of the bills you need to pay each month, who they are supposed to be paid to, and your bank has given her access to your checking and savings account so she can keep you financially afloat while you are struggling.
Power of Attorney over Medical
The second form is a Power of Attorney over Medical Decisions. You do not have to choose the same person for your medical decisions as you chose for your financial decisions.
Maybe your brother is a CPA and your aunt is a nurse. Therefore, you trust your brother to be better informed to make financial choices on your behalf, while your aunt knows how to handle your medical care decisions.
A Power of Attorney over Medical is a person who is designated by you, ahead of time, to make the decisions related to your medical care in case you are unable to make them yourself.
If you are incapacitated, do your love ones know how you want to be cared for?
Do they know you’re allergic to penicillin?
Do they have access to your health insurance cards?
Do they know who your health insurance agent is?
Do they know what prescriptions you take?
Who is your Doctor talking to?
How is your family going to get information on your medical condition?
These decisions all can fall onto someone you have appointed because you know they will do everything in your power to keep you safe, healthy, and back to your normal self in no time.
Again, let’s apply this power practically:
Medical POA Case Profile:
You come down with COVID-19. You were relying on your spouse to tell the doctor what you needed, but your spouse is caring for your children, is overwhelmed, and may have contracted the virus too.
You do not want your elderly parents involved because you want them to stay home and not come into a hospital right now in fear that they may get infected.
However, your best friend for seven years is a respiratory therapist, and you know she will be a pro at making any medical decisions necessary. You spoke to her ahead of time about your concerns, she knows what your health goals are, and more importantly, she knows how to get you back on your feet.
But she is not related to you. So, your doctor will not give her any information about your healthcare, your health status, and refuses to let her advocate on your behalf.
It is so easy to TAKE ONE SIMPLE SMART STEP. You plan for this ahead of time. You create a Power of Attorney over Medical so that a trusted individual can these decisions for you.
You can assign your spouse to be in the primary role, but because your spouse isn’t feeling well and is overwhelmed, you can have the role fall to your secondary person, your best friend.
Now, because you are a smart planner, this is taken care of ahead of time and you have a well-functioning plan in place.
Planning for the Pandemic
Preparing is more than just washing your hands. It’s making sure that everyone you love is taken care of.
Create a well thought out plan ahead of time rather than burdening those closest to you after an issue arises. We know that this virus can easily spread to everyone in a single household, so planning secondary backup people to help make decisions for you is essential.
We welcome any questions or comments.