May 2020 Newsletter
Dear Clients and Friends,
Today is May 4th. My office has been closed for 48 days. For the near future, it will remain closed. I am able to work from home and many of you have contacted me by phone. I check messages every day and I am able to prepare documents for you. The major restrictions are that we cannot meet so I cannot notarize those documents. I can mail or email the documents and you can sign them at your bank, credit union, or UPS store. Hopefully, we will soon be able to meet again in the office.
Of course, there are many more important issues facing all of us than my notarizing documents. Many of us have been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 Virus by losing employment or loved ones.
From an estate planning attorney’s perspective, there are three documents every adult needs:
Healthcare Power of Attorney. This document includes what is sometimes called a living will, or advanced directive. A survey by Health Affairs in 2017 stated only 33% of U.S. adults had advanced directives. A more recent survey by caring.com supported the data by stating that only 32% of U.S. adults had advanced directives.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Virus has demonstrated that any one of us can find ourselves in the hospital fighting this deadly disease.
HIPAA Authorization. This document names what friends and family members are entitled to receive medical information about you. The Healthcare Power of Attorney is about making decisions for you if you are incompetent. This is about who can receive information.
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters. This document names the people who can deal with your financial and legal issues if you are incapacitated while in a hospital for weeks. Do not assume that your spouse can automatically make your legal and financial decisions in your absence. In most cases, they cannot.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT YOUR HEALTHCARE POWER OF ATTORNEY.
If I prepared your HCPOA, then you did not sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. My document allows you or your Patient Advocate to sign a DNR when it is dictated by circumstances. That means that, if you were hospitalized for COVID-19, you would permit the doctor to put you on a ventilator. That is a very important part of the treatment and may be life-saving. However, some attorneys write the HCPOA to prohibit the use of ventilators or incubation. You should review the language of your HCPOA to see if it reflects what you want.
Make sure your instructions do NOT say that you never want a ventilator.
Stimulus Check. If you have not received your stimulus check, go to http://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.com. You can enter your information and learn when you will get your payment if eligible. Remember, to really make this a stimulus check, spend it at local and locally owned merchants.
2020 RMD is NOT required. If you take a required minimum distribution (RMD), you are not required to take it in 2020. This recently passed law recognizes the drop in the stock market since December 31, 2019. If you already took the RMD, it is possible to return it if you qualify for a 60-day rollover. Contact your IRA custodian to get details.
Retirement Account Withdrawal. If you have a Covid-related reason to withdraw funds from your retirement account, and you are under the age of 59 ½, you will not have to pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty. The limit is $100,000. You will still have to pay tax on the amount withdrawn.
Don’t hesitate to call the office on these or other questions you may have. Feel free to forward this newsletter to your own circle of friends that you think could use the information.
Finally, thanks to all of you who have responded with your prayers and concern for my wife, Susan. She is nearly recovered from her chemo and radiation following her hysterectomy and then her surprise gallbladder operation. Now we are waiting for the surgical date of her lung cancer. We are hopeful that will be the end of this long road.
Very truly yours,