“At our estate planning law firm, it occurred to us that more than most, those who are on the frontline to protect us will also need protection,” says South Pasadena estate planning attorney William Hayes.
In the ever-growing isolation that we are all experiencing with this pandemic, the day comes for many when we must think about the unthinkable.
For first responders and others on the front line of the battle against COVID-19, it means preparing and gathering essential documents in order to be ready for whatever may come.
As attorney Hayes further explained, “my thoughts of the particular dangers that first responders face really came into focus when one of my clients who works for the fire department urgently called me to have her estate plan done, because there is a concern with first responders, that they are particularly susceptible to catching the virus.”
Rather than see this unfortunate trend as a profitable opportunity, the Hayes Law Firm decided to cut their fees in half for not only first responders, but for all workers classified as “essential”.
The fee reduction which the law firm is offering, will be to all “essential workers” without whom society would cease to properly function. Such workers would include grocery store workers, automobile mechanics, bus drivers, highway workers and more.
According to attorney Hayes, there are minimally three documents which you as an essential worker should have in place:
A durable financial power of attorney which would enable a trusted person to access your accounts to continue paying your bills and to sign agreements on your behalf, if you should become physically or mentally unable to handle your own affairs. The fact that you are ill or disabled does not stop your creditors from wanting to be paid. The utility bills, mortgage and rent are just a few of the ongoing bills which still must be paid, though you are out of commission. You are always able to terminate a power of attorney.
It is also recommended that a healthcare power of attorney be prepared, which would authorize someone to speak on your behalf if you are unable to handle your own affairs. The person you name as your representative would be authorized to speak for you in dealings with doctors and health institutions. Anyone who is named as your power of attorney is only authorized to act in your best interests.
The third document is an Authorization to Disclose Health Information. “These forms are important because they will enable the person you appointed to receive copies of your medical records. It’s very important that the person acting on your behalf have a written authorization so that they cannot be refused access to your medical records if they have concerns about the type of medical treatment that you have received.
Without your written authorization, any doctor or medical institution can easily refuse to release your medical records. Even if a person is a family member, a doctor or hospital could easily refuse your family access to your medical records. “Let’s say there’s a mother who’s in the hospital and her child says, ‘I want to get copies of my mom’s records because I think you’ve not done certain things that you should have done for her.” The hospital can say, “No, we’re not providing you any records, because you don’t have any written authorizations from your mother.’”
Attorney Hayes also points out that, aside from essential workers, anyone and especially single people should have well-crafted powers of attorney in place. “If an adult single person should become ill or disabled, there would be no one with the legal authority to act on their behalf. If you should find yourself in that position without having proper documents in place, you could easily find yourself being the subject of a court conservatorship and that is truly a position that you would not want to be in, but that’s a discussion for another day.”
Estate planning is one of those important tasks that some people are always intending to accomplish and often do not get done in time.
As attorney Hayes says, “If you’re not motivated by a pandemic to get your planning done, what is the likelihood that it will ever get done?”
William K. Hayes is a member of the prestigious American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys which has been recommended by Consumer Reports, Money Magazine and Suze Orman if you are seeking well-qualified estate planning attorneys. The Hayes Law Firm specializes in Trusts, Probate and Medi-Cal Planning. To attend an upcoming free seminar, you may call (626) 403-2292 or visit The Hayes Law Firm website at LosAngelesTrustLaw.com. If you’d like a free presentation on these topics for your business or social organization, let us know.