December 29, 2020
By: Howard S. Golden

I have typically written articles on the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan and having it periodically reviewed. Those of you who have followed my directions are to be commended.

The COVID-19 pandemic is raging in Illinois. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients have increased from 1,400 in June 2020 to over 5,800 as of the end of November. The positivity rate which was 3.2% in June was consistently over 10% during the month of December.  We can take little consolation that Indiana’s positivity rate is over 20% and Wisconsin’s over 30%.

Yes, we are more careful than Hoosiers and Cheeseheads, but the effect of COVID-19 cannot be ignored. Deaths everywhere are rising. We now have a vaccine but it is going to take months to bring down the spread. Now is a good time to review your choices of backup trustees, executors and agents under your Powers of Attorney.

You should also consider having adult children sign Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property. Younger adult children who are students or just starting their careers likely are not even thinking about executing Powers of Attorney, but COVID-19 does not discriminate by age. Although the outcomes for younger adults seems to be better, there are still many young adults seriously affected by the virus.

With respect to your older adult children, you may feel that they are mature enough to address the issue of having Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property. That may be a false assumption. This is not a casual discussion that you should have with your adult children. Rather you should seriously inquire as to whether they have Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property and strongly urge that they, their spouses or significant others also execute Powers of Attorney.

If your adult children get a bad case of the virus and do not have Powers of Attorney, they will still be admitted to hospital and receive medical treatment. The hospitals, at some point, may feel that some decisions should be made by a guardian where no Power of Attorney exists. There may be a need to access bank or other financial accounts to cover ongoing expenses. Using the guardianship route is both expensive and time consuming and can easily be avoided by having have valid Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property in place.