All of us face difficulties and tragedies in our lives. Some of these difficulties are expected and some are unexpected. 2020 has been a year of many unexpected difficulties. While all of us get sick from time to time, nobody anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 9 million Americans have caught the disease, resulting in the deaths of over 230,000 Americans.
Apart from coronavirus, there are many unexpected tragedies, such as 795,000 Americans suffering a stroke each year, according to the CDC. Another 805,000 Americans experience a heart attack each year, according to the CDC. Additionally, automobile accidents claim about 39,000 lives in the United States annually and injure many more.
Further, there are many lesser-known ways to face tragedy or death. An example is an amoeba that can eat the brain. While rare, the amoeba can come from the soil or water and can be lethal. Here’s a link to learn more.
Few of us know exactly when or how we will face tragedy or death. But we know that we are all mortal and so we know we will face death eventually.
We may not be able to protect ourselves from everything, but we can prepare now for whatever might happen. Do your estate planning now. That way, when tragedy strikes, you’ll be prepared. If you’re prepared, it will be much easier for your loved ones.
To prepare, consider:
- A Property Power of Attorney in which you appoint someone, your “Agent,” to handle your property if you are unable to do so yourself.
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney in which you appoint an Agent to make medical decisions for you, if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
- A HIPAA power which gives people whom you designate, such as your Agent, access to your protected health information.
- A Revocable Trust to allow management of assets during life and at death. Such a trust allows the avoidance of the delays and expense of probate, which vary from state to state. Through this trust and the PourOver Will discussed below, you can spell out how you want your assets distributed to your beneficiaries to help them the most.
- A PourOver Will which sends any remaining assets to the Revocable Trust at your death and nominates guardians for any minor children.
Once you have all your ducks in a row, you’ll be ready for whatever life has in store for you, even a year like 2020!
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128