Updating your estate planning during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is a disease that has already spread throughout China and Italy, and that will likely spread throughout the United States. There are many concerns we cannot ignore during this Coronavirus pandemic: How will Coronavirus affect the economy? How will Coronavirus affect my ability to earn a living? How will Coronavirus affect my family? One of the last things which many people are concerned about at this time is updating their estate planning. However, updating your estate planning should be at the top of your priority list during this time.

There are many reasons to consider updating your estate planning due to the effect Coronavirus has had on the world. As we have seen in China and Italy, elderly adults and those with underlying issues are especially vulnerable to Coronavirus. One of the main concerns people have at those stages in their lives are that their loved ones are protected. With necessary updates to a person’s estate planning, he or she can have peace of mind that the Coronavirus pandemic will not have detrimental effects on his or her family.. Additionally, you may now have the additional time needed to address your estate planning. It’s not often we are given the gift of time.

There are several different things people should consider when addressing their estate planning due to Coronavirus.

• Do you have a Last Will & Testament or Revocable Living Trust?
• Do you know who will receive your assets if you do not have a Last Will & Testament or Revocable Living Trust?
• Have you identified who will oversee your minor children in the event of your passing?
• Do you want certain beneficiaries to receive the property outright or over a period of time?
• If you have a Revocable Living Trust, when was the last time you reviewed your Trust?
• Have you purchased any assets since you created your revocable living trust which may not have been properly funded into the trust?

It is imperative to speak with an estate planning attorney regarding these questions because the answer to any of these questions can potentially affect your intent as it relates to your estate plan.

It is also necessary that your powers of attorney are properly updated during this pandemic. If you get infected with the Coronavirus, a durable power of attorney will allow the person(s) you have named to pay your bills, contact the utility companies, and make other financial decisions on your behalf. A healthcare power of attorney will allow the person(s) you have named to make health decisions on your behalf and receive health care information from your doctors. If you get infected with the Coronavirus and have minor children, you may want a power of attorney so that someone has the authority to take your children to the doctor.

A common misconception many people have regarding their Last Will & Testament is that all of their assets will flow as set forth in their Last Will & Testament upon death. However, if a person has assets that allow for beneficiary designations, such as IRA’s, annuities, and life insurance policies, the designations made will trump your Last Will & Testament. Therefore, when the beneficiary has been properly updated to meet with a person’s wishes, those named beneficiaries will receive funds from those accounts outright instead of through the Last Will & Testament. I have witnessed firsthand many times when beneficiary designations likely did not meet with the decedent’s wishes. Therefore, it is important that you contact your financial institution or insurance company to review your beneficiary designations to make sure they meet with your wishes.

Now, more than ever, is the time to update your estate planning. If you or your loved one would like to speak with me about updating your estate planning, please feel free to reach out to me. I am able to ask you the necessary questions to determine the type of estate planning which would best suit you over the phone. Lynn Jackson will then work with you on finding an alternative for execution of your estate planning documents.

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