COVID-19 has upend­ed life as we know it for mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. Many of us—including the young and healthy—are seri­ous­ly con­tem­plat­ing our mor­tal­i­ty for the first time.

As the par­ent of a tod­dler, with a baby on the way, I’m def­i­nite­ly in this camp. It’s deeply unset­tling to pon­der how this virus has cut short so many lives in the span of just a few months.

I can’t escape the real­i­ty that I’m not invin­ci­ble and nev­er real­ly have been. Whether it’s an acci­dent, a ter­mi­nal ill­ness or an infec­tious dis­ease, untime­ly deaths hap­pen and none of us are assured a long, healthy life.

That thought par­a­lyzed me before I decid­ed to take a proac­tive approach to things. The good news is that there are con­crete actions you can take today to pro­tect the ones you love and get some peace of mind dur­ing these chal­leng­ing times. Here are four def­i­nite­ly worth doing.

 

1. Pre­pare your will. Not even half of Amer­i­cans have a will, which is a legal doc­u­ment that spells out your wish­es for where your assets go and who cares for any minor chil­dren in the event you pass away. If you die with­out a will, your indi­vid­ual state’s laws will decide where your mon­ey and belong­ings go and who takes care of your kids. As if that isn’t bad enough, dying with­out a will gen­er­al­ly delays the process of resolv­ing your estate and can sub­ject it to addi­tion­al taxes.

Spare your loved ones from this expe­ri­ence with a will. Many peo­ple use a lawyer to draw up a will, espe­cial­ly if they have large or com­pli­cat­ed estates. These days, many lawyers can help you via email, phone and tele­con­fer­ence, so don’t let social dis­tanc­ing stop you from get­ting a will.

Anoth­er option is to cre­ate a will online. This is a fast and inex­pen­sive option for any­one on a bud­get or with uncom­pli­cat­ed needs. A few pop­u­lar resources include Legal­ZoomQuick­en Will­Mak­er & Trust and Do Your Own Will. (The final option is free!)

 

2. Cre­ate an advanced direc­tive. An advanced direc­tive is anoth­er legal doc­u­ment you’ll want to lock down. It explains what kind of med­ical care you’d want in the event you can’t speak for yourself.

The most com­mon types of advanced direc­tives are the liv­ing will and the durable pow­er of attor­ney. A liv­ing will spells out your health care wish­es in the event you’re ter­mi­nal­ly ill and unable to express your wish­es or per­ma­nent­ly uncon­scious. Mean­while, a durable pow­er of attor­ney is a doc­u­ment in which you name a trust­ed per­son to make health care deci­sions for you in the event you’re unable to do so.

An attor­ney can help you cre­ate an advanced direc­tive or you can cre­ate one for free online using a form from your state. (Check your state’s web­site for its indi­vid­ual form.) If you go the lat­ter route, make sure to check your state’s laws about advanced direc­tives. Some require you to sign them in the pres­ence of a wit­ness, while oth­ers require them to be nota­rized. (And yes, you can now get doc­u­ments nota­rized online through ser­vices like notarize.com.)

 

3. Look into life insur­ance. If any­one depends on your earn­ings or unpaid labor (I’m look­ing at you, stay-at-home par­ents and care­givers), it’s absolute­ly essen­tial to have at least some life insur­ance in place. From funer­al costs to the mort­gage to every­day liv­ing expens­es, life insur­ance steps in to smooth things over finan­cial­ly if you aren’t in the picture.

I know the last thing many of us want right now is an added expense. But this is one well worth having—and it’s prob­a­bly a lot less than you think. A healthy 30-year-old can get a $250,000 20-year lev­el term pol­i­cy for just $13 a month.

Any amount of life insur­ance is bet­ter than none at all, so con­tact an agent today to get a pol­i­cy that works for your life and bud­get. (Like lawyers and notaries, many of them can work with you over phone, email and tele­con­fer­enc­ing tools!)

 

4. Con­sid­er dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance. Ill­ness­es and injuries cur­tail many people’s careers and life­time earn­ings unex­pect­ed­ly every year. With respect to the cur­rent cri­sis, those hos­pi­tal­ized for COVID-19 often have long roads to recov­ery as well as life­long com­pli­ca­tions. Whether the health chal­lenge leads to short-term or per­ma­nent con­se­quences, it’s hard to stay on top of bills when your pay­check stops.

This is where dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance can be a life­saver. This “insur­ance for your pay­check” pro­tects your income until you’re able to return to work. Like life insur­ance, there are poli­cies for every sit­u­a­tion and bud­get. Learn about the three main ways to get dis­abil­i­ty cov­er­age.

 

I’m the first to admit that con­tem­plat­ing these real­i­ties isn’t a fun way to pass the time. But some­thing far worse is know­ing that the peo­ple I love the most would be in a bind if the unthink­able hap­pened. Plus, tack­ling these to-do’s gave me a much-need­ed sense of con­trol dur­ing these unpre­dictable times—I hope it does the same for you, too.

By Aman­da Austin

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on lifehappens.org