4 critical documents to update during the pandemic

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure your personal affairs and important documents are updated and filed. Here’s a checklist to get you started.

Amanda Radke

April 21, 2020

3 Min Read

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly slowed a lot of things down. As our nation grapples with the new reality of balancing social distancing for public health with working to keep the economy humming, we also can’t lose sight of other important tasks that need to be tackled at home.

As I write this, I can think of at least a dozen things we need to catch up on at the ranch. There’s fencing to do; we’re gearing up to artificially inseminate cows; the garden needs tilling; manure needs to be spread; and even though the sun is shining, there’s always paperwork to file.

As planting and breeding season gets rolling, you may find there is less time now than ever to work on some of the more tedious tasks that are easily kicked down the road for a later date.

However, a recent blog post by Elaine Froese, a family farm business consultant, titled, “Staying on track with your vision for family, farm and ownership during uncertain times,” was a jarring reminder that these critical to-do items cannot be ignored.

In the blog post, Froese writes, “Farmers are problem solvers and fixers, but I don’t think we anticipated the ripple effect of a pandemic on our families, our farms and our future. I’ve spent the last few weeks anchored at my farm office, calling out to farmers, listening, and drilling deep to share a well of hope.

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“On a zoom call with fellow Hudson Institute coaches, one coach quoted Andrew Grove, who was the COO of Intel as saying, ‘a crisis always ends. What matters is how we come out on the other side.’

“We have to put a crop in and tend to livestock. We have some gifts of time now. ‘Do not waste the crisis, as there are opportunities to discover,’ said Norm Trainor of www.covenantgroup.com, encouraging business to thrive in times of uncertainty.”

So where do we start? How do we keep the momentum moving forward to ensure our financial security and the future of our businesses during a time of great unknowns with a recession looming?

Heather Gessner, South Dakota State University Extension livestock business management field specialist, gives us a checklist of action items to work from.

In her recent article titled, “End of life documents you should have in place,” Gessner’s list included advanced care directives, a living will, medical power of attorney and funeral plan.

Gessner writes, “COVID-19 infection and mortality rates fill the news programs. Across South Dakota and the nation, people have made changes to their lifestyle and the way they accomplish many everyday activities.

“In response to this illness and the potential for long-term hospitalization and even death, individuals over 18 should also ensure their end of life documents are up-to-date. End of life documents indicate medical treatments we may or may not want, funeral arrangements we have made and how our estate is to be managed and distributed upon our death.”

And while this may sound morbid, the reality is we will all die at some point and having your personal affairs in order is the best possible gift you could give to your loved ones.

Go over this checklist and make sure your documents are current and updated. It may be a tedious task but putting it off could add stress and turmoil to the lives of your family members after you’re gone. Plus, it will ensure your wishes are well documented and your assets are distributed as you intended.

Get it done and filed. You’ll be glad you did!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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