Have you been delaying, or avoiding addressing the topic of Advance Directives? COVID-19 is the Advance Directive jolt, time could be running out. Being a realist, and not an alarmist; I constantly ask the question, what are you waiting for? Who will speak for you, and share your wishes when you are unable to speak for yourself? We are living in unprecedented times, the need for Advance Directives and advanced planning has never been greater. COVID-19 truly is the Advance Directive jolt.
COVID-19 Is The Advance Directive Jolt
The spread of COVID-19 combined with the various national, state and regional responses to treating individuals reinforces the need for individuals to have Advance Directive. Your underlying medical conditions, age, and those you may have come in contact with, may place you at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. COVID-19 is the Advance Directive jolt. Remove the burden from your loved ones; avoid them having to make decisions without knowing your wishes and preferences. Avoid family members having to deal with your affairs without having all the information to make the best-informed decisions on your behalf.
Resources for Advance Directives
- Elder law attorneys are making themselves available to assist clients during this challenging time. Seek a referral from a trusted friend, relative, or financial planner
- AARP Advance Directive Forms by state
- CDC Advance Care Resources
- Five Wishes available in 26 languages
- Medline Plus, the website of the National Library of Medicine
Peace of Mind
Peace of mind is a gift, not just to yourself but to your loved ones. That peace of mind can only come when you have completed an Advance Directive, named your healthcare surrogate, and spoken to those who you have named to speak on your behalf. These individuals need to be able to pick up and manage your affairs. Have you added these individuals as beneficiaries or granted them access to safe deposit boxes and bank accounts?
Have you shared ALL the information needed to address your business affairs?
- Passwords (banking, websites, insurance, medical portals, utilities, social media…)
- Access to properties – keys for cars, storage units, boats…
- Location of key documents – your filing system, checkbooks
- Provided a copy of your Advance Directive
- Funeral home
Advance Care Planning
There are a number of apps to assist; Just In Case Planning is one free tool that is helpful in organizing all of your Advance Care Planning into one location, and you grant access to those acting on your behalf.
Who would have thought that we would be dealing with a pandemic that has impacted every aspect of our lives? Some of us may be quarantined or staying in place. COVID-19 is the Advance Directive jolt, the kick in the pants to spur action. Utilize this gift of time to address or update your Advance Directive. Take the time to reach out to those you love, let them know how important that they are to you. If you have treasured belongings and know that there is someone who would appreciate the item, tag it or make a distribution of property list. This will minimize some hard feelings down the road.
It is also the time to make amends with those you might have drifted away from despite the reason. Make your day and their day by mending the relationship. Leave letters and note for those you care about, share the impact that they have made on you.
In the near future, many of us will have been impacted or know someone who has been impacted by COVID-19. Hopefully, we and they will recover quickly, and return to good health. Unfortunately, given the statistics, we will all have the unfortunate opportunity to have someone close to us suffer the more serious impact of this virus and need hospitalization. This is when it is so critical to have the Advance Directive documentation to guide the medical team as to your wishes. Depending on your age, overall medical condition and availability of resources in your area, your Advance Directive becomes more critical.
Personal Action Plan
- Complete an Advance Directive & upload to a registry – keep it handy and NOT in a safe deposit box
- Name a healthcare surrogate/proxy
- Ensure your healthcare surrogate/ proxy is aware of the designation and will advocate for you
- Name a backup healthcare surrogate/ proxy; be sure this individual is aware of the designation and will advocate for you in the absence of your primary choice
- Avoid probate – contact your elder law attorney & financial planner
- Ensure that beneficiaries are named on life insurance policies
- Ensure all property disposition is addressed – there may be state-specific nuances
- Compile a medical and surgical history
- Include all medications, prescription, and over-the-counter
- List all known allergies to medication, foods and any other substance (latex)
- List of treating practitioners
- List emergency contacts
- List the individuals you authorize the practitioners to discuss your care
- Take the time to communicate with those you love
- Reach out to those you have a strained relationship
- Frequent handwashing
- Practice social distancing
- Stay connected by phone, video chat, email
- Focus on the positive that is going on
- Keep contact numbers of family and friends handy