When a person gets sick or dies, the family will frequently try to hunt for their estate planning documents, or the contact information of an attorney who might know about them.
Forbes’ recent article entitled “The Covid-19 Essential Estate Planning ‘Go Package’” says that it’s a good idea to have all your estate planning documents complete and current. However, all that effort and expense doesn’t do much good, if your family doesn’t know about the documents or have access to them.
There can be horrible consequences, when the important components of the estate plan aren’t immediately known and accessible to your family, especially if you fall ill. Medical and financial decisions and actions will be delayed or won’t be made by the people you wanted.
To avoid this, especially during the pandemic, create a “go package” of essential estate plan items and have the package available. Be certain that your family is aware of it and where to find it. This go package must contain the primary estate planning documents: medical power of attorney/advance medical directive, financial power of attorney and will. The medical documents are the most fundamental in this package. Without these, the hospital and doctors won’t know your wishes for medical treatment or who should help make decisions.
In addition, put a copy of your insurance card and any related information in the package. This might include a Medicare card and information about any Medicare supplement and Part D prescription drug coverage you have. It will go much more smoothly at the hospital, if the medical insurance details are immediately available. Your important medical history should be included.
Adding a list of essential personal information also is important, including full legal name, Social Security number, birth date, emergency contacts and contact information for your doctors and other medical providers.
You can prepare your go package in a digital format, such as on a thumb drive or similar device that is on your key ring or kept near you. However, others must be aware of it for it to be used. Therefore, let your family and decision makers know where you keep the digital package and consider providing them with copies or keeping one clearly labeled near your door.
With a go package, you and others don’t need to hunt for all of this information. If you’re already at the hospital, ask someone to go retrieve it.