Another year, another lockdown. It was not my intention for my first blog of 2021 to concern COVID-19 but, alas, here we are. Although COVID-19 continues to impact our daily lives, new measures have been implemented by the Courts and by Legal Practices to allow us to continue to properly service our clients. As I continue to discover, additional new measures or encounters still arise from time to time.
The 21st century has seen the baby boomers become part of the aging population. Our long term care facilities are fully occupied with seniors (“Residents”) who require round the clock care. Some of the Residents have an estate plan already in place, while other Residents do not. Of the many implications of COVID-19, has been an increased impetus for our clients to consider whether their current estate plan accurately reflects their intentions and if not, has prompted our clients to initiate the process to get their estate plan in order.
Family members of Residents in long term care facilities have contacted us to assist their family members with revising their estate planning documents or preparing new estate planning documents for the Resident. Recently, we were contacted by the family member of an existing client who is Resident in a long term care facility to do just this. During this process, we had contact with the client, family member, as well as various staff members at the long term care facility. Because visitors are not permitted to attend long term care facilities, in order for estate planning documents to be properly executed, we have to meet with the Residents virtually. In order to arrange this specific virtual execution, it required various emails with the Resident’s family member, as well as staff members at the long term care facility to advise us of the technology that they had available, the Resident’s schedule and the availability of a staff member to assist the Resident in setting up the required technology for the virtual execution.
One day prior to the scheduled virtual execution, we couriered the execution documents to the long term care facility. A staff member advised that the package had arrived and I replied, “Great. Are we all set for our virtual execution tomorrow?”. The staff member then advised that their current protocol is to quarantine courier packages for 48 hours. This was new to me! In the previous virtual signings I have had with Residents of long term care facilities, I have never encountered a long term care facility with a quarantine protocol for courier packages. I enquired “why?” and the staff member advised that they do not have any COVID-19 cases and have implemented this protocol as an extra layer of protection to ensure their long term care facility remains COVID-19 free. Fortunately, the long term care facility reduced the 48 hour quarantine to enable us to virtually meet with the Resident to have her estate planning documents executed.
What this highlights is that the arrangement of virtual execution of estate planning documents with Residents in long term care facilities requires additional planning in terms of timing, technology and the fostering of relationships with family members and the staff at the long term care facilities
Just when we think we have seen and heard it all, a new year brings new measures and new encounters to keep us on our toes! Let’s all continue to stay up-to-date.