| Four months into the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, we know we can expect the pandemic to go on for some time. At my law office, the number one call I'm receiving is from folks who want to get their health care directives in place in case they are hospitalized due to COVID-19. And they want them done ASAP.
If you're one of the over 60 percent of Americans who haven't prepared any life care documents, there is no time like the present to put your wishes on paper. And if you have already created advance directives and designated a health care surrogate or proxy, go review your documents and determine whether they need to be updated for any reason. If they are older than five years, consider making new ones.
Key documents for all ages
Living wills and health care agent appointments are critically important documents for adults of any age. They provide legal authority to your caregivers in times of crisis, and peace of mind that your wishes are known and will be carried out. I encourage everyone to have them. There are virtually no drawbacks to making these documents, and they are readily available online, for free.
Simply put, these documents specify your health care preferences if you are at the end of life and specify who will make your decisions for you if you cannot make or express them for yourself. Not a happy thought, but any of us could be hospitalized and unable to communicate our wishes. COVID-19 aside, over half of adults over age 65 who are admitted to the hospital cannot speak for themselves; most people who are dying cannot speak.