Creating a Power of Attorney During a Global Pandemic

notary reviewing legal documents - Power of Attorney

Planning for a time when you may be unable to make decisions for yourself can often be upsetting for all involved–especially in a time when so much uncertainty looms. However, having the needed documentation in place to ensure your medical and financial wishes are known by your named agent is a critical component of the estate planning process, as many Pennsylvania residents have found that being able to assist loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult.

At Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam, we know how challenging COVID-19 has been, which is why we want to share the importance of creating a power of attorney during a global pandemic.

What is a power of attorney?

Under Pennsylvania law, 20 Pa.C.S. Chapter 56, a power of attorney is defined as a written document used to authorize another individual to act as your agent or attorney-in-fact should you be unable to act on your own behalf.

There are various forms of Pennsylvania powers of attorney you may enact. They include:

  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Simple Power of Attorney
  • Springing Power of Attorney

But specifically, you will be looking at the health care power of attorney and financial power of attorney.

  • Health Care Power of Attorney: Names an agent to make decisions about your medical care when you cannot do so on your own.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: Names an agent to make financial decisions and transactions including signing checks, selling your house or other real estate, and investments.

Why Should I Add a Power of Attorney to my COVID-19 Estate Planning?

Though COVID-19 death rates have continued to decline thanks to more individuals becoming vaccinated as well as more individuals having the antibodies to combat the novel coronavirus, the reality is that at-risk groups for complications or those who cannot have the vaccine should be using this time to plan for the future.

While some people may still be unable to meet with an attorney face-to-face and virtual options may be limited, there are still ways to get a Pennsylvania Power of Attorney or an “Advance Health Care Directive.”

But why do you need one? Consider this:

You get COVID-19 and have to be hospitalized. Your wife cannot be there with you because of an uptick in coronavirus cases, limiting the number of visitors the hospital will allow. Unfortunately, what started with oxygen treatments and monitoring leads to needing life-saving medical intervention–something you did not want.

But you get placed on a ventilator, only to never come off of it. The hospital is not at fault for giving you life-sustaining intervention–it was never documented that you didn’t want it. But now, your wife and children must make the ultimate decision to remove you from the ventilator, a lengthy process and an emotionally strenuous one, too.

Don’t let this happen to your family. Whether it is COVID-19, a freak accident, or old age, life comes at us quickly, and being ill-prepared can only make it all the more difficult.

Creating a Pennsylvania Power of Attorney During a Global Pandemic: Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam

At Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam, we know the stressors that are perpetuated by planning for the future. But knowing you have an estate planning team on your side to help you through the process can alleviate the worries. If you have questions about creating a power of attorney during a global pandemic or any phase of life, contact the estate planning attorneys of Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam today. We help families in Scranton navigate all of life’s journeys.

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