FAMILY EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS DURING COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic reminds us that life is unpredictable, and it makes sense to be prepared. The threats to life and finances posed by the pandemic offer ample reason to prepare your family for an emergency.
Having an up-to-date family emergency plan in place will allow a trusted person to step in if needed and make decisions to keep you and your family safe and taken care of.
Everyone over the age of 18 should have the following three documents in place:
- Health Care Power of Attorney – Identifies who can make health care decisions for you in the event you are too sick to make your own health care decisions, conveys your wishes regarding end-of-life care, and specifies any restrictions you may have regarding your health care.
- Universal HIPAA Authorization – Authorizes medical providers to share your medical information with the individuals you name in the document.
- Financial Power of Attorney – Authorizes someone else to take care of your financial affairs on your behalf if it becomes necessary.
Additionally, anyone who is the parent of a child under the age of 18 or a special needs adult child should have a Short-Term Guardianship form in place. This document allows parents to name a guardian who can temporarily take care of minor children in case both parents are sick or quarantined. It is even more important for single parents to have this document in place.
The fee for this emergency preparedness plan is $350.00 per person. Please provide the information below to start the process. Our office will contact you shortly to gather final details and to schedule a time for you to sign the documents in person in a way that complies with social distancing guidelines, keeping you and our team safe while ensuring your family is protected during these trying times.
The emergency preparedness plan is complimentary for active nurses.
*Emergency preparedness plans are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Only a limited number of plans are available. River Valley Law Firm reserves the right to deny service.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Will Happen To My Children If My Spouse and I Become Sick?
Parents of children under the age of 18 (and adult special needs children) should identify who will take care of their children in the event they (the parents) get sick. For single parents, naming a guardian in case of incapacity is even more crucial. Parents should name someone who can serve as legal guardian for educational, health care, and other purposes. Under Illinois law, parents can grant that responsibility to a qualified adult for up to one year without a court order for guardianship. The short-term guardianship appointment must be made in writing and must comply with legal requirements. If you do not have a short-term guardianship form in place and you get sick or you pass away, your family will have to go through the court system to have a guardian appointed for your child.
Different states have different laws. It’s important to know what is required for short-term guardianship if you or your child reside outside of Illinois.
Who Will Take Care Of My Financial Affairs If I Fall Sick?
It’s important to name a trusted person as agent under a financial power of attorney. That person can take care of your financial affairs if the need should arise. They can also make sure your assets are made available to take care of your spouse and children if you are too sick to manage those responsibilities. Examples include banking, mortgage, safety deposit box access, insurance and benefits paperwork, taxes, and management of a business.
If you do not have a financial power of attorney in place, then a loved one will have to file a petition in court to have a guardian appointed for you who can make decisions on your behalf. That person will have to file a report of your finances with the court and will need court approval to make withdrawals for your family’s needs. The process may take longer during the pandemic because most courts are only accepting emergency matters at this time.
Who Will Make Health Care Decisions For Me If I Am Too Sick To Make My Own Decisions?
If you can’t communicate your own healthcare wishes, either temporarily or permanently, you’ll want to have documents in place to enable someone else to navigate healthcare decisions for you and ensure you get the care you deserve. If you don’t take care of this proactively, someone else might end up making decisions on your behalf–someone whom you do not want making decisions for you. It’s also important to identify your wishes concerning end-of-life care and organ donation.
How Can I Help My Adult Children If They Get Sick?
The phone rings… your 24-year-old son is crying on the phone. He’s 700 miles away and in terrible pain, he is scared, and his 25-year-old roommate is taking him to the hospital. The pain in his stomach is so bad he can’t stand it. You stay on the phone with him the entire way to the hospital, asking questions and telling him you love him and that you are sorry he is hurting so badly. He hangs up when they arrive at the emergency room.
That’s it… that’s all you know… his new roommate, whom you’ve never met, is your only source of information. Your child isn’t answering his phone anymore and every time you call the hospital, they tell you that your child is an adult and they don’t have permission to share anything with you because it is a HIPAA violation. Unless you can provide written authorization, the hospital is not going to tell you anything about your son.
For families with children over the age of 18, it is important to remember that they are legal adults. This translates to parents not being able to make financial or medical decisions without a Health Care Power of Attorney, Financial Power of Attorney, and a HIPAA Authorization.
What Else Should I Do To Prepare My Family For An Emergency?
Once your documents are in place, make sure the people whom you have named are aware of the documents and can readily access them. Additionally, keep a copy of the following documents with your legal documents, in case they are needed:
- Your Children: birth certificates, pediatrician’s contact information, list of allergies, special conditions, medicines, dosages, etc., school information, contact information for relatives who can bring comfort to a child during a difficult time; and a way in which children can communicate with you in the event you are hospitalized.
- Your Health: physician’s contact information, health insurance information, list of allergies, password to unlock your phone (if you want hospital staff to help you communicate with your family in the event you are hospitalized and too sick to place a call on your own), and your wishes concerning funeral and burial.
- Your Finances: list of online passwords, including email access if it will be needed, access to your smartphone, iPad, and computers, copies of recent financial statements that include contact information, and life insurance documents.