The impact of COVID-19 has far reaching and dramatic implications. The associated stress and anxiety are understandable. It is an uncertain time and our daily activities and the norms we take for granted as a society have been completely disrupted. Any increasing concern is whether our families are prepared for a pandemic, including whether there are potential impacts from not having an estate plan, will or powers of attorney in place.
The vast majority of Americans do not have an estate plan in place. Lack of proper documentation could become a critical issue and leave your loved ones unable to make needed financial and medical decisions in a crisis.
Estate lawyers caution clients to proactively prepare for the worst, and often that preparation comes too late. In the current climate and in light of how quickly the global pandemic has escalated there is no better time to assess your plan that right now.
This situation is evolving rapidly, and we are hopeful that efforts at social distancing will flatten the curve of the virus and minimize the impact. Now is the time for people to take action. As many of us have extra time on our hands, this is an ideal opportunity to take stock of your estate planning needs. Some key things to keep in mind.
If you do not have a will or trust, now is the time to get one. If nothing else can convince you, let this current global crisis do so. If you are over the age of 18 and own anything, you should get a will. Now.
If you have a will or trust, ensure your personal representative or trustees are up to date and reflect your needs. If you don’t have the proper parties carrying out your wishes, you may needlessly frustrate the process. If you need updates, now is the time.
If you are separated or divorced, make sure your estate plans reflect those changes. Couples often make mirror wills, which means they name each other as personal representative and beneficiary. When you are separated, your will provisions may not automatically change. If you named your divorced spouse as beneficiary or personal representative it may be even more complicated. If your documents are written so that person gets skipped over — as if they were dead — and you have named a backup, then your estate will likely face an expensive, complicated probate process — one that could have been avoided with proper planning.
Conversely, if you have gotten married or had children since making a will, you likely need a new one. These life changes lead to important factors that must be addressed, including appointing guardians, making provisions for your child’s inheritance and making trust provisions. It is also important to note that if you in a relationship with a domestic partner and die without a will, your partner will receive nothing.
Just as critical as planning in the event of death is planning for incapacity. Medical and financial powers of attorney are imperative to allow for decision making in the event of your incapacity. These documents appoint someone to manage your affairs when you are still alive, but incapable of making decisions relate to your healthcare or financial affairs.
The Kendrick Law Group understands the stress and uncertainty during this time, and we are available to help you understand, implement and navigate the estate planning process. We are fully equipped to manage this process 100% remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering on-line and telephone consults, electronic document sharing and even Remote Online Notarization on certain key documents. Schedule your complimentary consultation by reaching out to email@example.com or calling 407-641-5847 today.
Co-written by: Kyle Wilhelm, J.D.