Over the past year, many changes have occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While people are realizing those things that are most important to them, it has also invoked reminders to prepare for the future. For many, this should include updating an estate plan, which can provide peace of mind for them and their family. Additionally, the pandemic has caused new situations and scenarios that require estate planning documents to be further specified. Below are some elements of an estate plan that should be updated and discussed with family members—particularly in light of the pandemic.
While every estate plan includes healthcare-related documents—including a living will and healthcare proxy—some of these forms may need to be altered because of the treatment needed for serious cases of COVID-19. For example, one of the common estate planning documents is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) or POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). On this form, some people will indicate no life-saving measures be taken if they are sick, including a prohibition against intubation. However, for many hospitalized individuals with COVID, intubation is necessary to survive. As a part of their estate plan, individuals should specify the cases where they may want intubation—such as COVID treatment—from those situations they do not want intubation—like if they are in a vegetative state. Coloradans can revise their healthcare documents to reflect this change in circumstances.
Virtual Communication with Healthcare Proxy
The pandemic has brought changes to how doctors discuss medical decisions with a person’s healthcare proxy. A healthcare proxy is a person appointed to make healthcare decisions on another person’s behalf when they are incapable of making medical decisions for themselves. In the past, healthcare proxies have spoken to the doctor in person when making medical decisions so that they can sign the necessary documents. However, with hospitals limiting visitors because of COVID-19, people are modifying their estate plan to allow electronic communication and decision-making. This may include adding a clause to the estate plan, expressly authorizing the proxy to communicate decisions to a medical provider via telephone or web conference system. While this may seem unnecessary, it can ensure that medical decisions can be made swiftly, regardless of their ability to be at the hospital physically.
Because the pandemic has changed how many people think about their health—and the long-term decisions in their estate plan—people who want to revise their estate plan should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.
Contact a Colorado Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one wants to update your estate plan in light of the COVID-19 pandemic—or for any other reason—contact the experienced Boulder estate planning attorneys at the Braverman Law Group. Our attorneys not only have experience advising clients about their existing estate plans, but they can also assist individuals in the beginning stages of their estate plan. Especially after the past year’s events, it is more important than ever to plan ahead—so we are here to help. To schedule a free consultation and to speak with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at 303-800-1588.