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During these uncertain times of the coronavirus outbreak, people may be finding themselves with available unplanned time.

What can you do with this gift of time? Plan for the future.

It’s a great time to make sure all your insurance, estate and medical access documents are adequate and up to date and you and your loved ones know where to locate them are in case of emergency.

One example of documents you may want to have on hand relate to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Many of us grew up in a time when a friend or relative was hospitalized, we could call the hospital to inquire about their well-being. Today with HIPAA regulations, hospitals and doctors are no longer able to give out any patient information or confirm a patient is even in the hospital, unless you are married.

Unmarried partners who have been together for decades will find they are unable to get information about their partner.This is even true for parents whose children are over the age of 18! Parents have no rights to obtain medical information on legal-age children, even if the child is covered under the parent’s health insurance.

A signed HIPAA authorization and Medical Power of Attorney allows parents access to their adult children’s medical information, or unmarried partners to get information on their partner. Requirements for these documents can vary from state to state, so an attorney can make sure documents are appropriate for each situation.

Something that most people know they should have but often put off is to update or create a Will or Trust that makes sure your loved ones are cared for should something happen to you. Not having a Will and/or Trust may increase your family’s tax liabilities, not to mention the legal disputes or challenges that result when there is no estate plan in place. An experienced attorney can help guide your estate planning experience and tailor your documents to meet your needs and wishes for the future.

Why plan?

  • There are people who count on you
  • The unexpected does happen
  • It’s not as complicated or time-consuming as you think.

If you have already prepared your Will or Trust, know that it is not a one-time project but a lifelong process that requires revisiting. Now is a good time to review to make sure your wishes haven’t changed:

  • Are the Beneficiaries you selected in your Will and Trust still the ones you would name today? How about alternates? Are they still willing and able to assume those responsibilities? Are the Beneficiaries on your life insurance up to date?
  • For those with minor children, are the Guardians you named the persons you want to raise your children? What about pets? Have you designated who will care for them?
  • Does your planning reflect all your assets, big and small?
  • Have you created letters of instruction with key information in the event of an emergency, including names and contact information for key professional advisors, location of original records, how to find passwords and other key online information, key medical information, insurances summaries and other general instructions?

With hurricane season beginning May 1, you can take time to review your homeowners and medical insurance coverage. An attorney can review confusing homeowners and medical insurance policies and explain coverage and any limitations.

And while many people are staying home, time on the road or in grocery stores can still result in accidents, particularly with an anxious and stressed population. While it may seem like nearly everything is closed and you may feel like you are on your own, we are available and committed to providing our community and clients with service and representation you can depend on.

In the event of an accident, it’s still important to take steps to collect information and get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.

  • Check for injuries and start first aid if needed. Remain calm.
  • Move yourself to a safe location if necessary.
  • Call 911 for law enforcement and emergency medical personnel assistance.
  • Take note of other vehicles, type, color, damage, license plate number, etc. Take pictures if possible.
  • Identify witnesses and obtain their contact information.
  • Speak to police only. Do not make any admissions to anyone.
  • When being examined by EMS personnel, let them know how you feel everywhere on your body. Do not withhold injury information from them.
  • Locate your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information for police.
  • If your car is not drivable, ask for a towing company of your choice and have your vehicle towed to a location of your choice (dealer, body shop, or another storage free location). Towing companies charge $25.00 or more to store your car and if your bill is not paid within a specified time, the tow company may take ownership of your car.
  • Have all injuries checked by a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant as soon as possible, but not more than 14 days after the accident.
  • Report the accident to your own insurance company. (Do not give a recorded statement without legal representation).
  • Seek all medical help recommended by your doctors.

Since 1962 we have weathered challenging times together. We have been protecting our neighbors in Southwest Florida for nearly 60 years, and we will continue to provide uninterrupted legal support through virtual services now available that include video conferencing and telephone consultations. Upon engaging our services, we offer secure electronic document signing and execution.

Our priority, as always, is the safety of the community and our neighbors. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the coronavirus (COVID–19) pandemic.

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