May 28th, 2020 | Miller Advisors

The Covid-19 essential estate planning “Go package”

An estate plan doesn’t do much good when key people don’t know about it or have access to key documents and information. That’s become more
apparent during the pandemic as people suddenly become ill and incapacitated.

Many times after someone falls ill or passes away, the family members go on a hunt for an advance medical directive, power of attorney, will or other estate planning documents, or the contact information of an attorney who might know about them.

It’s great to have all your estate planning documents complete and current. But the work and expense doesn’t do much good if key people don’t know about the documents and have access to them.  There can be dire consequences when key elements of the estate planning package and other important information aren’t immediately known and accessible to your loved ones, especially if you fall ill. Medical and financial decisions and actions will be delayed or won’t be made by the people you wanted.

To avoid these problems, especially during this pandemic, you should put together a “go package” of essential estate plan items and have the package readily available. Be sure your loved ones know about it and where to find it. It’s even a good idea to leave it near the exit of your home that’s used the most. If you need to go to the hospital, the package is there for you or someone else to grab on the way out the door.

The package definitely needs the major estate planning documents:
medical power of attorney/advance medical directive, financial power of attorney, will, and living trust agreement. The medical documents are the most important for this package. Without the documents, the hospital and doctors don’t know your wishes for medical treatment or who should help make decisions.

Copies of your insurance card and any related information also should be in the package. These might include a Medicare card and information about any Medicare supplement and Part D prescription drug coverage you have. Things go much more smoothly at the hospital or a doctor’s office when the medical insurance details are immediately available.

Your key medical history and information also should be in the package.

Any chronic conditions or diseases should be described. Have a list of all your prescriptions, plus any supplements and over-the-counter medications you take. Consider including photos of the labels. Of course, list your known allergies.

A list of essential personal information also is important, including full legal name, Social Security number, birth date, emergency contacts, and contact information for your doctors and other medical providers.

For most people all this information can be contained in a large envelope or a binder. But others have to know what the package is, so clearly label it on the outside. At a minimum, your full legal name and a phrase that describes the contents should be on the outside.

You can prepare the package in a digital format, such as on a thumb drive or similar device that is on your key ring or kept near you in another way. But others have to know about it for it to be used. So, let your loved ones and decision makers know where you keep the digital package and consider providing them with copies or keeping one near your door clearly labeled.

With a go package such as this, you and others don’t need to search around to make sure you have all this information. Or if you’re already at the hospital, someone can pick it up and bring it where it’s needed.

Article Sources: Forbes.com | May 27, 2020
By: Bob Carlson, Senior Contributor
Photo Source: iStock