Reevaluating Your Estate Plan During the Pandemic
Pandemic Estate Planning: Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Attorney
2020 has thrown a lot of curveballs our way. The ensuing uncertainty is a reminder that we need to prepare for the future to keep our safe and secure. Your estate plan is a major part of this. Unfortunately, even if you already have a will, it probably needs to be reevaluated after COVID-19 and the Great Shutdown. Here are the things that you need to think about when reviewing your estate plan.
Does Your Current Estate Plan Still Reflect Your Objectives?
You need to regularly review your estate plan, even in the best of times, to ensure that it still works towards meeting your goals. This is true for both wills and for trusts. For starters, you might want to reconsider your chosen executor or trustee if they live out of state, considering the dangers associated with flying and other travel restrictions during the pandemic. Also, if you are one of the millions of Americans who have adopted a new pet to cope with isolation, think about including provisions for care in your will. Finally, if your financial situation has changed, you may need to change how your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.
Can the Guardians in Your Estate Plan Still Provide for Minor Children?
If you have children under the age of eighteen, then there is no doubt that you have appointed guardians, such as grandparents or close family friends, who can take over as caregivers if something happens to both you and your spouse. However, you might want to appoint someone new if the previously desired caregiver is unable or unwilling to take on such a responsibility given a change in circumstances, especially if the guardian is in a particularly at-risk group.
Are You Satisfied with Your Present Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney?
You may want to rethink your medical and/or financial powers of attorney as well. Again, location matters more than it did before the pandemic due to travel restrictions and other risk factors. For example, if you have a sibling, they may be the most trusted person in your life. However, if they live on the opposite side of the country, now might not be the best time for them to be serving in this capacity. This is also the time to make any desired changes to the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and insurance policies.
Does Your Living Will/Advanced Directive Still Express Your Desires?
Chances are that you have already spoken to at least one friend or family member about the kind of medical treatment that you want to receive – or want to avoid – towards the end of your life. It is not just enough to talk about it. You need to have a physical living will or advance directive to ensure that you make your exit on your own terms. Your children, for example, might have a hard time telling a doctor to deny life support in the heat of the moment, regardless of what you told them in a conversation years ago. Get it in writing so there can be no mistaking what you want to happen.
Can Your Loved Ones Find Your Estate Planning Information?
Even with the best attorney, your beneficiaries are going to have to do some work themselves. Oftentimes, this requires hard-to-access or otherwise confidential information. Keep a list of where to find your most important documents (such as property titles, Social Security cards, and personal identification) and how to access your most important accounts. Without this information, they may be unable to manage your property or settle your estate. You should also have a list of relevant legal, financial, and medical professionals. Don’t forget to include their contact information and HIPAA authorizations, too.
Protecting your family and planning your estate is too important to handle without professional help. For assistance with updating or drafting your will, setting up your trust, or other estate planning matters, contact our offices online or by calling (727) 279-5037.