As the United States moves towards an unprecedented health situation, there are a number of practical elder law legal issues to consider. Chief amongst those, are legal authority and decision-making in the event of an extended period of quarantine.

Legal Authority During A Quarantine Event

    1. Having Correct and Current Documents: This goes without saying, but in the event you are at-risk for the coronavirus and you do not have documents in place, or those documents do not reflect your current wishes, consider getting them updated as soon as possible. Your loved ones will not get to change your previous thoughts if you are unable to sign new documents. Make sure you have a Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive and that your decision makers either have copies or can easily get them.
    2. Practical Considerations about Incapacity Documents: Typically, a health care directive or power of attorney is brought or transmitted to a health care or financial institution in the event that the person who signed the document requires health or financial decision making. However, the specter of our current situation creates significant impediments to this practicality. Financial institutions may have their ‘back office’ on leave and unable to record it into their systems. Nursing homes and hospitals may bar visitors from coming and dropping off the forms. If you or a family member are vulnerable, then record incapacity documents with your local health providers and financial institutions ahead of them needing it.
    3. Care Decisions in Quarantined Facilities: Contact with a loved one is integral in managing another’s health. It is impossible to replicate decision-making without observing a loved one to make informed decisions. However, as nursing homes begin to shut down outside entries in an attempt to limit exposure to the coronavirus, health care agents may be barred from seeing their loved ones. Keep up to date on their quarantine efforts and find out what, if any, means they have for you to stay in contact. Push your care facility to have technological substitutes, video calling at a bare minimum, so you can communicate with and observe your loved ones.

In light of these challenges, be aware that much of this work can be done by phone or email – allowing people to limit contact as their circumstances require.

Attorneys Damian Halstad and Dennis Twigg are Here to Help

Hire Attorney Damian Halstad or Dennis Twigg to provide expert advice to make sure you know all of your legal options for your estate and tax planning.  They have a wealth of experience and have helped clients throughout the area, including Westminster, Eldersburg, Taneytown, Hampstead, Manchester, Sykesville and Mt. Airy. Dennis M. Twigg is also licensed in Pennsylvania and has many clients in York County and Adams County.

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