COVID-19 has reminded people that life is fragile and fleeting. While we’d prefer to focus on things like mindless Netflix shows in the wake of the pandemic, social distancing and stay-at-home orders have provided many people with a lot of extra time on their hands, so it is the perfect time to create an estate plan –or to update the one you already have.
Even if you can’t meet with an attorney in person right now, there are countless technologies that still make it possible to execute an estate plan, or at least begin putting one together.
Depending on where you are with respect to your estate plan, the following are some things you can or should be doing right now:
- If estate planning is something you have been putting off until now, use this time to sit down and create a big picture outline for what you want to happen with all of your assets and holdings once you are no longer here, or in the event that you become incapacitated and require a family member or friend to take over your finances.
- Nobody likes to think about the point in life where their health could decline enough that they may no longer be able to handle their own finances, or even the day-to-day tasks of living, yet that is a reality many people will face. Between people living longer than ever before and the health problems that result from aging, chronic or terminal illnesses, and now even pandemics, it is something you shouldn’t ignore. Consider making a living will as part of your estate planning, and take the time to outline how you would like your family member or friend to deal with extreme measures if you are ever incapacitated. Lay out what kind of living situation you want if you eventually need assistance, such as remaining in your own home versus some sort of assisted living or retirement facility.
- You can also consult with an attorney and work on drafting legal documents for your estate plan. Between video conferencing tools, email and phone calls, as well as electronic signatures, there are multiple ways around in-person meetings that still allow for legal documents to be drafted and signed. Though online notarization is only allowed in certain states, it may also be possible to get everything done in advance and just meet with an attorney for a few minutes to quickly sign papers while wearing a mask.
Speak with an attorney to find out your options and what you can and cannot be doing when it comes to estate planning amid the pandemic.