As of right now, 10.2 million American have tested positive for COVID-19, a virus that has also taken the lives of over 200,000 U.S. citizens. When we discussed COVID-19 and estate planning before today, no one knew how important it would still be to explain, in clear and concise detail, why planning your estate — by putting a will, trust, or other documentation in place before your demise — is more important now than ever before in our lifetime.
Many of us hoped…expected…that the country would be faring better, and maybe even in the clear by now. We anticipated being ready to plan our holiday meals, make our gift-giving lists, and celebrate the upcoming year. Instead, we are now figuring out how to share meals without congregating together. At our firm, we are encouraging individuals to plan or revisit how to provide care for loved ones while properly quarantining. These are discussions that should be had now no matter how hard the conversation may become. Our office is here to assist you with these discussions. In an effort to begin assisting now, let’s review what you should know about estate planning in the midst of the pandemic, and explore which products are befitting for such unprecedented times:
Most estate planning is designed to protect the family unit, and that unit is always evolving with birth, marriages, and deaths. A revocable living trust allows you to keep up with the family changes as you can amend the terms and conditions of the trust as needed. A revocable trust, when drafted and managed correctly, also allows you to avoid probate, which means your loved ones won’t be in court fighting for your assets — mourning the passing of a loved one is enough stress for anyone to endure, especially during this time when court navigation is a bit more difficult with COVID shutdowns. Trusts put you in control of how your assets are allocated, and to whom, and you determine who will oversee the trust if you become incapacitated. Known as a trustee, this person serves as your decision-making contact to ensure the choices you want to make remain intact when you’re no longer here.
Powers of Attorney
As always, we strongly encourage you to engage and estate planning attorney to create a Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney asap! In fact, we encourage you to secure the proper creation of such documents within two weeks of your reading. With Powers of Attorney you are appointing someone to manage assets and medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to manage those matters. During this year, 2020, we have supported many individuals who have developed certain sicknesses, including COVID, and have been hospitalized as a result. Hospitals and other facilities, as you likely know, have placed significant restrictions on who may enter the hospital. Oftentimes those restriction have required no visitors. This has significantly limited attorneys’ ability to help such individuals create powers of attorney once the individual is in this situation as not even attorney are allowed, generally, to meet with the individual, absent electronic devices. Now is the time to ensure that your powers of attorney are created.
Revisit your estate plans
Ultimately, there’s just no other way to say it: If you do not have a properly drafted plan in place that clearly identifies your plans regarding death and incapacity, now is the time to do so. The first wave of this virus was a warning. With the anticipated numbers for this second major wave, as we have now entered winter months and flu season, you cannot afford to procrastinate. Please schedule some time to meet with your estate planning attorney asap to ensure that your documents — a last will and testament (maybe a trust), durable power of attorney, patient advocate designation, and related items — are up to date and that they reflect your current wishes. It’s now as serious as ever to be diligent about this matter. An estate attorney can assist you with revising any plans you already have in place. Please contact our office at TGQ Law for direction.
Our hearts go out to our friends, family members and other families that have been affected by COVID-19.