The Covid-19 pandemic has upended everyone’s lives in one way or another. Perhaps the only silver lining during this period of unknown is the growing knowledge that establishing an estate plan is vital. In just one week, coronavirus cases have surged by 73%, and there are new strains emerging that the vaccine may not account for. Having a plan in place if you become incapacitated or die has become salient. The consequence of not establishing these documents is detrimental not only for you but also for your loved ones. Therefore, estate planning is critical no matter who you are or how much wealth you’ve accumulated. Now is the time to get started with estate planning.
Estate Planning During a Health Crisis
Estate planning is important in and of itself, but especially in 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic has made many realize just how fragile life really is, and how quickly our health can deteriorate. Creating an estate plan ahead of time prevents you from having to create an estate plan on your deathbed, or dying without one. If you die without any estate planning documents, your family will have to fight for your assets, all while grieving your loss. Instead of forcing your family to play a guessing game to try and figure out what you would’ve wanted, make sure to contact an attorney ahead of time.
Documents You Should Consider Creating
1. Advanced Directive
An advanced directive permits you to appoint someone who will act as your agent for medical decisions. It is, arguably, the most important estate planning document to have right now, because it directly affects your health and well being. If you become incapacitated without this document, your family members may have to go through an expensive process in order to seek guardianship to manage your affairs.
2. Financial Power of Attorney
Similar to an Advanced Directive, a Financial POA (Power of Attorney) helps make decisions for you regarding your finances if you become incapacitated. These may include signing legal documents, selling assets, signing a contract, or executing financial transactions.
3. Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament designates your final wishes after you have passed away in terms of both assets and dependents. Without a will or estate plan, state law will dictate how your assets—and dependents—are dealt with after you die.
For many people, estate planning is about protecting their families. Estate planning is an act of love and kindness for those we care about the deepest, especially during times like these. Therefore, creating a trust to hold your most valued assets that will benefit your family is a no brainer. Additionally, a trust allows your family to bypass the probate process.
5. Digital Assets Inventory
The more technology advances, the more sensitive information we share online. This includes—but is not limited to—financial data, credit cards, email accounts, photos and videos, social media, passwords, and more. Make sure that your loved ones are able to access these before you die.
The rules surrounding these documents can vary from state to state. If you have questions about which documents are right for your situation, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Or, attend one of our virtual workshops. Caress Law, PC is open but practicing social distancing, sanitizing practicing, and following CDC guidelines. Our next virtual workshop, titled, The 7 Truths (and Untruths) of Estate Planning – Wills, Trusts, Probate & More” is February 25th, 2021. Register now for this exclusive workshop led by one of Portland’s most trusted estate planning attorneys, and get answers to your burning questions surrounding estate planning.