Updating Advance Directives for Coronavirus

March 11, 2020

New York now has numerous confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), a highly contagious respiratory infection that has been spreading worldwide. While experts say the risk of infection is relatively low, there are some populations that may be more vulnerable, including seniors and people with pre-existing conditions. As officials work toward a solution to this threat, adults should take this opportunity to ensure that their estate plans are up-to-date and include advance directives.

The virus originated in Wuhan, China and has spread rapidly to multiple countries; cases are no longer limited to people who have traveled to that region, with community transmission continuing to spread in New York. Government and public health officials are encouraging basic protective measures, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding unnecessary contact to slow the spread of the disease. Some communities with high cases are taking more extreme measures, with those who had contact with a person infected with coronavirus being asked to remain quarantined. Schools and businesses connected with COVID-19 patients are closing out of an abundance of precaution, including some in Manhattan.

Advance Directives Protect Adults’ Interests

Seniors who are hospitalized due to a serious illness may not be in the best position to advocate for themselves. It is important for adults to have a living will in place to ensure that they receive the medical care they want. Living wills can contain preferences for pain management, interventions, instructions on how and where patients wish to spend their final days, religious traditions that patients want honored, organ donation, and even personal hygiene if a patient is unable to care for themselves.

Some patients may not want extraordinary measures to prolong their life, such as feeding tubes or intubation, and it is important for them to tell their family members before the time comes to make such a decision. Conversely, some patients want every necessary intervention to keep them alive if they should reach that stage. In some cases, there may be certain types of treatment that patients would not want, regardless of the consequences. Having a living will can help alleviate confusion for family members who must act on their behalf.

Advance directives can also include appointing powers of attorney. A medical power of attorney designates a trusted person to make health care decisions on a person’s behalf. They can ensure that the terms of the living will are followed, and any other medical needs are met. Similarly, a financial power of attorney helps a person manage their affairs and make financial decisions in the person’s interests.

Brooklyn Elder Law Lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Provide Comprehensive Representation to Seniors

A person’s circumstances can change suddenly at any time. Most seniors will not be infected by the coronavirus but having comprehensive advance directives in place can help them deal with any surprises that life has to offer. The Brooklyn elder law lawyers at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP understand that no two adults are the same, and we help seniors craft an estate plan that meets all their needs, including advance directives outlining their wishes. With offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we work with seniors and their families throughout New York and New Jersey. Call us today at 212-495-8133 or contact us online for an initial consultation.