The last couple of months have been a wake up call for people in being prepared for the unexpected. COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. Regardless of your personal opinion of whether the public reaction to the virus was right, wrong or somewhere in between, it is undeniable that we have all been significantly affected by the virus. Sports events were cancelled, restaurants were closed, no one was able to get hair cuts and, of all things, many people weren’t able buy toilet paper. Varying levels of panic set in for people.
One thing that we have been very consistent in repeating over and over is the need to plan to make sure you and your loved ones are taken care of. One of the things that EVERYONE should be considering is their health care directive. Look, not all of us are going to die from COVID. Not all of us are going to be in the hospital if we get COVID. Many of us won’t even know we have COVID if we contract it. Unfortunately, some people will have to worry about those fears. The question that we should all ask ourselves is “why risk it?”
Maybe you haven’t been directly touched by someone that contracted COVID and maybe you won’t be. The sad reality to life, though, is that everyone is mortal. At some point we all are going to get sick, be in an accident, or have some other health issue. Many of us are going to need someone to make decisions for us because we aren’t able to speak for ourselves. COVID is just another real life example of what needs to be done if we get sick and need our loved ones to help us.
The question becomes what do we do to help ourselves and our family. One of the best places to start is developing and writing a health care directive. A health care directive is simply a written directive putting someone (called your “agent”) in charge of your health care decisions if you are not able to do it yourself. The document gives your agent a guideline of what you want done for you medically. For example, if you are in the ICU in an induced coma, your agent will be able to tell the doctors how they should treat you based upon the guide that you wrote out for you. In essence, you are making the decision for your health care through this document and your agent even though you can’t speak for yourself.
You may ask why this is important. Well, unfortunately, our family members don’t always agree on what should happen. They may disagree, drag out the process, and cause you to suffer. They certainly don’t do it because they hate you or want to make you suffer, but because everyone thinks they know what’s best. That’s human nature. Everyone wants to do the right thing, but everyone has a different idea on what the “right thing” is.
We aren’t trying to scare people. That’s not how Kiecker Law works. Unfortunately, health issues are naturally scary. COVID is just a reminder of how fleeting life can be. A health care directive is a very valuable part of an estate plan. It works along with your will, trust, power of attorney and financial plan. That’s why our consistent recommendation is to plan. Don’t just plan for what you expect to happen. Also plan for what you don’t expect to happen.