The sudden rise of the coronavirus, COVID-19, has left many unprepared and confused. There are numerous reports of shortages of antibacterial hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and even toilet paper, but now this epidemic has lead to shut down and closures to public services including a current limitation at our Probate Courts for the safety of the staff and public. At this time, local Probate Courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are hearing emergency matters and the staff will assist the public with telephonic and video hearings as necessary. Further described in Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-20. While we can’t predict when something like COVID-19 might strike you or a close family member what we do know the numbers are on the rise. Also, it is very concerning with the recent restrictions and limitations at the Probate Courts where they are currently limited to the public and open for emergencies only. What does this mean? If you, your spouse or loved one became completely incapacitated or passed away there would be no telling how long it would take for your loved ones to get control and access to your assets because of the Probate Court restrictions.
What you need now! A Revocable Asset Protection Trust (RAPT) that is properly “funded” with your assets because this will avoid probate court all together and allow your loved ones to step into your shoes Day #1. Also, you need the “Big 6 Disability Planning” that I wrote about in the South Shore Senior Newspaper. Which is Durable Financial Power of Attorney with Enhanced Elder Law powers, Health Care Proxy, Advanced Medical Directives, HIPAA Authorization, Living Will and Spoon Fed directives. The “Big 6” is critical to have because it will help you keep your affairs out of probate court to avoid stressful and expensive Conservatorship and Guardianship proceedings. Again, at this time this process could cost a substantial amount of time and money because of the Court limitations with skeleton staff and closure to the general public.
Designate a family member who will check on elderly relatives. Make sure everyone knows who will responsible for checking in with an elderly loved one each day. Also set up a process for notifying other family members of an elderly loved one’s condition – this may including sending an email, text messaging, or phone calls and video calls like Facetime. The method is not as important as agreeing to a process and sticking to it so all family members stay informed and keeping one another safe.
Seek medical advice in the event of a health care crisis. There has been a great deal of reporting about COVID-19, and some of it has been inconsistent. Reach out to your trusted medical team to understand what you and your loved ones should be doing in this, or any, health care crisis.
Make sure someone knows how to get your bills paid if you are unable to. This type of power can be provided to an agent under a financial power of attorney. Powers of attorney can include numerous powers so it is critical to talk with legal counsel before signing any type of legal document that gives someone else authority over your finances.
Be sure there is an accurate list of medical prescriptions readily available in your home. If you become ill, it is important that someone knows the medicines you take and the dosage. Keep this in your home where others can find it, and make sure the list is dated, noting any time it is updated. Many of us assume that our doctor has an updated prescription list, but if you are seeing multiple specialists, that may not be true.
Designate someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to. This should not be a form that is downloaded from the internet. Deciding what type of treatment you want, where you want to live, and what should happen if you have a terminal illness are serious topics that should be considered carefully, then translated into a proper legal document.
Planning for an unexpected health care or financial crisis can help relieve a great deal of stress for you and your family. We would welcome the opportunity to help you come up with a plan that works for you.
To learn more watch our next free educational virtual on-demand estate planning and elder law webinar at www.elderlawcare.com because you will learn a lot. Contact our friendly elder law care team at 781-871-7526 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the next webinar because we fill up quickly.
Patrick Kelleher is an author and Estate Planning & Elder Law attorney and founder of the elder law care learning center in Hanover, Massachusetts. Patrick has been teaching free educational workshops for over 10 years at his learning center and surrounding communities. Learn more at elderlawcare.com or follow Patrick Kelleher on Facebook because you will learn a lot! Offices in Hanover and Quincy. You can find Patrick’s new book “How to Avoid the Four Headed Monster” of Estate Planning & Elder Law on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/How-Avoid-Four-Headed-Monster-Financial-ebook/dp/B084MB96SK
Our Elder Law Care Team www.elderlawcare.com serves families in Boston, Milton, Canton, Randolph, Dedham, Norwood, Westwood, Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham, Norwell, Hanover, Hanson, Marshfield, Duxbury, Pembroke, Scituate, Hull, Cohasset, Abington, Rockland, Holbrook, Kingston, Carver, Plympton, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Plymouth, Barnstable, Sandwich, Wareham, Pinehills, Sharon, Avon, Brockton, Easton, Mansfield, Franklin, Newton, Wellesley, Needham, Bedford, Concord, Lexington including Suffolk County, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Barnstable County, Bristol County, Middlesex County, Essex County and surrounding communities.