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Idaho Estate Planning Coronavirus: Your Powers of Attorney

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The Coronavirus has been the number one thing on people’s minds for the last several months. This has been more particularly true during the quarantine and isolation periods put in effect by stay-at-home orders issued by local, state, and federal governments. There have also been countless internet reports, articles, and statements having to do with how many deaths are resulting from the coronavirus.

While these deaths are tragic, the purpose of this article is to talk about how you protect yourself in the event you become ill but survive. The reason for this is because there is a period of time where a person usually is hospitalized, isolated, quarantined, and essentially removed from the rest of the world. If this were to happen to you, how do you move forward with all the things that need to be taken care of as a part of your normal, everyday life?

This question points to the importance of having certain powers of attorney in place as part of your basic estate plan. These powers of attorney include a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, and possibly some limited powers of attorney having to do with your business, your property, your children or other loved ones, and yourself.

These powers of attorney, and descriptions of how these can help you individually are all contained in our free Estate Planning Questionnaire that we provide to all of our clients to help them compile their information and learn more about estate planning. Because it is free, we encourage you to download it immediately so you have this information available and can begin educating yourself about the importance of estate planning. The Questionnaire will also help you organize and compile the information you need to move forward with getting your estate planning done.

So, how can all of the different powers of attorney help you?

Health Care Power of Attorney

The healthcare power of attorney gives you the ability to name someone who will step in and make healthcare decisions for you so long as you are not terminal, and you are not on life support. If you are terminal and on life support then your living will give you the ability to provide specific instructions to your health care providers about what you do want and what you do not want them to do. Essentially, it gives you the ability to decide whether you want to pull the plug or you want the doctors to make every attempt to keep you alive.

Alternatively, if you are not terminal, but you do need help or assistance in making healthcare decisions, your healthcare power of attorney gives you the ability to nominate someone who will do this for you. The decisions this person make would include the doctors that you see, the medicines that you take, the medical procedures that you receive, and any other non-life-threatening decisions that need to be made as part of your healthcare.

We usually recommend that you nominate at least two (2) people. You would have your first nomination be the primary person who makes these decisions for you. However, if this person cannot do this then your second person steps in as the successor with the same power and ability that you’ve given to the first person. You can actually name as many successors as you would like. It’s a good idea to have at least two and sometimes three to make sure that your plan always has someone who can step in and help when needed.

Financial Power of Attorney

Similarly, you can also nominate an individual who will take care of your finances and property in the event you are incapable of doing this yourself either temporarily or permanently. In other words, suppose for a minute that you contract the coronavirus. Now suppose that you are placed in the hospital on a ventilator for several weeks while you recover. Who will be paying your bills during this time? Who will be making sure that you have your other financial obligations taken care of? Who will be making sure that your house is not flooding? Additionally, who will be there to protect your property and make sure that your belongings are safe?

All of these things are taken on by the individuals that you name in your durable power of attorney. This power of attorney is a global power. In other words, it covers every aspect of your life except for healthcare, or some limited power of attorney purpose that you provided to another individual.

Limited Powers of Attorney

Now we come to the limited power of attorney. These powers of attorney are exactly how they sound. They are limited to some specific purpose for a specific amount of time. For example, you may need someone who can sign your name to a closing document if you are either buying or selling a home. Additionally, you may need to grant a specific power of attorney to a family member or friend who can make healthcare decisions for your minor age children if you are incapable of doing it.

Whatever the reason, these powers of attorney are specifically limited to the task you have listed for the time you have specifically stated. Once either that purpose is completed, or the time has passed by, this power of attorney comes to an end automatically.

As you can see, there are many types and kinds of powers of attorney that are available to you to protect you while you are alive. We recommend that you contact us for a free consultation so that we can talk more about these powers of attorney and how they can help you individually. We do these consultations by phone or by video conference.

ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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