What papers are more important than toilet paper when preparing for COVID-19? Answer: A “Durable Power of Attorney” and “Health Care Proxy”. COVID-19 and ventilators are in the news all of the time now. If you require a ventilator there is a good chance you will also be sedated and unable to make your own medical and financial decisions. If a you are unable to make your own medical and financial decisions for this or any other reason:
- the hospital will follow the directions of the agent listed on your Health Care Proxy to make your medical decisions should you have one;
- financial institutions will allow access to your accounts by the agent listed on your Durable Power of Attorney should you have one;
- if you do not have a Health Care Proxy and/or a Durable Power of Attorney, your family (yes, even your spouse) will be required to petition the courts in order to become Guardian and/or Conservator in order to make decisions for you;
- petitioning the court for Guardianship and Conservatorship is confusing, costly, and may take several months, during normal times. Chances are, as the virus spreads, that courts will become overwhelmed adding to wait time; and
- once Guardianship and Conservatorship is established, the Guardian and Conservator will be required to report to the court all health information as well as every financial transaction.
Please have a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY and HEALTH CARE PROXY executed BEFORE YOU GET SICK. Your family attorney can easily draft and help you execute these common documents.
Please keep in mind that this article is for educational purposes only. Nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice. If you wish to engage in drafting these documents, I recommend that you seek professional counsel.
Please direct any questions to: John J. Costanzo, Esq. – Telephone: 781-643-1070, Email: [email protected]