State health officials estimate the COVID-19 pandemic, commonly known as the coronavirus, will experience a surge in cases and peak in Indiana between mid-April and mid-May. Now is the time to update your health care directives and other important documents to ensure your wishes are met if you get sick.

Don’t let the social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders deter you from making sure legal documents are updated. Most attorneys stand ready to help you in these difficult times. As a firm focusing on elder law and Life Care Planning, we have been busier than ever with requests from seniors worried about making sure their legal documents are ready. But younger Hoosiers need to plan, too.

Many attorneys are now offering the option for all meetings to be conducted virtually through conference call or video chat. Firms also can provide a variety of options for secure electronic communication to securely share documents.

Not sure where to start? Here are the key documents to make sure you have drafted, signed and notarized.

Durable Powers of Attorney

These allow you to choose trusted friends or family to make financial and medical decisions for you in the event you can’t make them for yourself. Without powers of attorney for finance and health care, the courts will decide who has the authority to make decisions on your behalf.

Advance Directives

These, which include Living Wills, allow you to select, in advance, the types of medical treatments you do or do not want in a critical care or end-of-life situation.

Another important document to have is a HIPAA Authorization, which gives the people you love and trusted advisors access to medical information about your condition when they need it.

Last Will and Testament

This document allows you to control who receives your assets after you pass away. It also allows you to choose guardians for your minor children if there is no surviving parent to take them.

Revocable Living Trust

First and foremost, it allows your estate to avoid the Indiana probate process. In addition, it allows you to maintain control over your assets while you are alive and, surprisingly enough, after you have passed away. You don’t even have to transfer your assets to your revocable living trust all at once. You can do so over time, as well as add newly acquired assets to the trust, which provides for the possibility of ongoing financial management.

A revocable living trust is particularly important for parents of young children, who are not allowed to inherit money or property directly until they turn 18. Revocable living trusts can provide guardians with the funds to raise your children after you die, but ensure the bulk of the money goes to the children when they are grown.

After the Documents Are Signed

Finally, take the time to tell your loved ones where the documents are and how much medical intervention you want if you become severely ill from COVID-19. That’s the best way to ensure you receive the treatment, or withholding of treatment, you desire and that any end-of-life decisions are complied with.

Lisa Dillman and Carol Applegate are attorneys at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law. The firm specializes in elder law and Life Care Planning, a holistic approach to deal with legal, financial, medical and emotional issues involved in growing older. The firm has offices in Indianapolis, Carmel and Zionsville. Find out more by clicking here.

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