COVID-19 and the uncertainty of this pandemic is causing many people to realize their mortality, how unpredictable their life can be, and consequently, they are beginning to prepare for things in advance.
In addition, although research shows that there is an increase in life expectancy; with old age generally comes a decline in health. Specifically, mental illnesses are more common as we get older, such as Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, etc.
These illnesses greatly harm our physical and cognitive abilities but develop slowly over time, so we are not necessarily aware of them at the onset. Thus, although we might live longer, that does not necessarily mean that our quality of life stays the same throughout our entire lifespan. How can we prepare for these situations so that we can continue to live our life according to our own choices and preferences?
Let us discuss a few legal ways that offer us the ability to prepare ahead:
- Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA): The EPA is a legal document with which we can plan our future for a time when we will not be capable of making decisions independently because we have lost our mental capacity to do so.
This will enable us to continue to live as independently as possible according to our own choices, desires, and preferences, which we determine in advance. With an Enduring Power of Attorney, we can appoint someone who will carry out our wishes in the future, when we are considered, by law, to no longer have full cognitive control.
Again, the Enduring Power of Attorney only becomes relevant when our mental health takes a turn for the worse, and we are considered to have lost mental capacity. Up until that point the EPA does not come into effect.
2. A Medical Directive: Any issues regarding End of Life Decisions cannot be instructed through an EPA, this includes any life prolonging instructions. Therefore, it is important to sign on special forms from the Ministry of Health and submit it to them so that they can record it at the “Central Data Bank of Active Medical Directives”.
When a person receives a medical assessment that he only has up to 6 months to live, the law permits him to request prevention of life-prolonging treatments, but he cannot refrain from certain medical care such as such as artificial feeding (tube), medication and treating additional diseases. If you sign on a form, as mentioned above, and submit it to the Ministry of Health, the doctor’s will act as per your submitted instructions, when you have lost your mental capacity and only have 6 months to live.
- Preparing a Will: A will is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have, as it details where you would like your property to go after your death.
You are entitled to bequeath inheritance to anyone you want in a will. In the absence of one, your assets will be distributed according to the inheritance laws in Israel rather than according to your personal wishes. Although it is possible to write a will by yourself, it is advisable to seek legal advice in order to ensure that you are following all the legal formalities needed for your will to be valid and that it is written in a clear enough way in order to avoid family disputes in the future,
- Update your beneficiaries in your Kupot Gemel, Life insurance and pension plans: These accounts are outside of your Estate and are transferred according to their beneficiary designations. You last Will does not control them.
The beginning of the year is the perfect time to get your affairs in order. With a bit of preparation, you can put your mind at ease now and save your loved ones a lot of trouble later.
Shana Tova to us all, may this year be filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment!