As the number of coronavirus cases in Washington State peaks, an anxious nation watches to see how we will respond. A March 20, 2020 New York Times news report detailed the struggles our area is currently facing. This includes difficult decisions doctors will likely have to make in dealing with critically ill patients. Those decisions will guide policy makers across the country, as will the actions of citizens. While most local residents are sheltering in place, there are important steps you need to take to protect yourself. In addition to handwashing, limiting social contact, and stocking up on supplies, this includes ensuring you have the proper estate planning documents in place.

Estate planning is among the many details residents should be attending to now. “A valid, updated will is something all adults should have in place, regardless of their age or health,” says Washington State estate planning attorney William S. Hickman of the law office of Hickman Menashe, P.S. “However, given this particular situation, there are other important estate planning documents that are needed as well.” Hickman advises that these include:

  • Power of Attorney: This authorizes someone you trust to manage your affairs on your behalf in the event you are incapacitated;
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: This authorizes a family member, friend, or other trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Living Will: This conveys your personal choices regarding life saving measures and end of life care, such as the use of ventilators or feeding tubes.

In addition to ensuring these documents are in place, Hickman recommends making a list of all your financial accounts, monthly debts, and insurance policies. “Keep a list of emergency numbers and people you would want to be contacted if you became ill,” he also advises.