Many around the world are currently dealing with the health and financial effects of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. As in many past emergency and life-changing situations, our thoughts start to drill down, deep into our future wellbeing, and that of our loved ones more than ever. I write this blog now to provide some reassurance and guidance moving forward.
There is a quote that goes along the lines of, ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail’, and I think that is now more important than ever.
I have written in so many of my blogs about the importance of remaining calm and being concise when communicating with our exes, the Police, and those whom we are in a disagreement with, and its no different to how I think we can all act and think during this COVID-19 pandemic. Remain calm and concise, and have a plan.
If you do not have an estate plan, now is the time to calmly think about one. Such a plan, should at least include:
- an advanced directive to your health care providers about any medication or life-support you do or not require in your final moments,
- a document for the disposal of all of your assets upon death, and,
- instructions about important decisions for your health care and financial management, should you suddenly lose the capacity to give instructions, but still be alive.
If you do not have such documents, they take time to consider and implement, and if you do not have them, you should consider taking steps to get them. If there is an emergency situation, call me on (03) 8692 7244, and I can attempt to assist, straight away.
In the meantime, here are some facts that might be helpful and may alleviate some anxiety until more formal planning has been instituted.
- A Last Will controls assets that are in a person’s name alone. Property that is owned jointly with another person or which has a named beneficiary such as a life insurance policy or retirement account are in most cases, paid directly to the surviving named beneficiary. Thus, even if there is no Will, many assets may pass directly to a person’s beneficiaries without the need to gain formal approval of the deceased’s Will (probate).
- In the event there is no Will, laws (intestacy laws) provide that a person’s estate passes to his closest living next of kin such as a spouse, children, parents or siblings. In many situations, these are the same beneficiaries that would be named in a Last Will. While it is best to have a Will that clearly sets forth the full plan, intestate distribution may suffice, but laws of intestacy may not cover every asset, and in some cases cannot be as straightforward for your loved ones, as simply having a Will.
- A Power of Attorney allows a person to designate another individual to make healthcare decisions or financial decisions in the event that he is incapable of doing so. If you do not have a Power of Attorney it could lead to a conflict over who should make decisions, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal may be asked to appoint an administrator or guardian to help you.
Change your worrying thoughts about the health and financial effects of COVID-19, to that of focusing on yourself and your loved ones, and what you can do to move forward.
I extend hope that that we all will remain vigil, well and safe throughout these difficult times.