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As COVID-19 Spreads, a Healthcare Power of Attorney is Essential

Posted by Judy Nakashima Shoji | Nov 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you don't have a full estate plan in place, including a healthcare power of attorney (POA), now is the time to get one squared away. The coronavirus pandemic is changing priorities for many people, and estate planning should be at the top of the list. Too many people don't realize how an estate plan's key elements can help if you become sick or die from the virus.

Should both you and your partner fall ill simultaneously, as seems likely given how contagious coronavirus is, it's best not to name them as your agent, or at least not as your sole agent. A healthcare POA will allow you to appoint one or more people to make medical decisions on your behalf when you aren't able to.

Though it's critical to have the document in place, it's even more important to name the right person or people as your agents in it. People often give little thought to this decision and designate their spouse or oldest adult child as the agent. That can be a mistake.

These days, there's an added advantage to naming more than one person to act for you. When more people are likely to be ill simultaneously or travel is restricted, a healthcare POA can allow another agent or agents to act on your behalf should one be unable to do so. 

Naming only one agent can put a lot of stress and pressure on the person making the decisions. Therefore, it can help have two or more people talk with the doctors and discuss the issues before making decisions.

If you don't have a healthcare POA, the court will name a guardian or conservator who will act on your behalf. That process will be public, cost money, and take time. It could also be messy if several individuals decide the court should appoint them and not others. Much more advantageous is to select the agent or agents yourself and prepare them ahead of time rather than risking the court deciding for you.

We can help draft a healthcare POA to meet all of your needs while giving you the peace of mind you want. Call us today at 206-926-9848.

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About the Author

Judy Nakashima Shoji

Judy prides herself on being approachable, down to earth and willing to answer any questions hr clients may have. She is a Seattle native. She attended the University of Washington, Tokyo University and Seattle University School of Law. She was a legal intern in the Civil Division of the Seattle City Attorney's Office and at Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company located in Shinjuku, Japan. Judy advises clients in all aspects of estate planning, probate and adoptions. She also serves as a Title 11 court appointed investigator in guardianship cases for King County Superior Court. She cannot think of any areas in which she would rather practice. She invests in learning about her client's whole story which creates a friendly environment in which she can provide more effective assistance. Her goal is for her estate planning clients to walk away with a customized, detailed, realistic, and clear estate plan which will accomplish their wishes. Estate planning can be uncomfortable and confusing and her goal is to explain complicated legal options in a way that is easy to understand and clear. Her desire is to provide peace of mind and clarity for her clients while also giving them the information necessary to make well informed decision. Judy has been a member of the Elder Law and Real Property and Trust sections of the Washington State Bar Association and King County Bar Association. She has been a volunteer attorney with the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Clinic and Pro Bono Services for the past 14 years where she was recognized as volunteer of the month in October 2014. Judy is married with three children. Outside of work she enjoys traveling to sunny locations, exercising (HIIT and barbell classes keep her grounded) and spending time with the people (and animals) she loves.

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