Have you been putting off your estate planning?
Many people have. Less than one-half of all adults have drafted a Will. Many families with young children have no instructions in place for who should step in as guardian if something happens to them.
Without your own estate plan, state laws and probate courts will make key decisions about how your finances are handled, who receives your assets, and who will take care of your children if you become ill or die prematurely.
That’s undoubtedly not what you or your family want.
With the coronavirus pandemic, estate planning is more important than ever
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined how important it is to be prepared. Not surprisingly, the Florida Bar says the coronavirus pandemic is prompting a surge in interest in will preparation and estate planning.
Fortunately, there is no reason to postpone any longer. Many attorneys are able to draft and execute estate planning documents while respecting social distancing and health concerns.
Getting the basic documents in place
This summer, consider setting up a consultation with an estate planning attorney to draft (or update) basic documents like a Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and Last Will and Testament. Here’s a brief description of each (specifics will vary from state to state):
Durable Power of Attorney: This is a legal document authorizing someone you designate to take care of your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. For example, they could pay bills, sign tax returns, and buy or sell assets on your behalf.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate: This is similar to a power of attorney, except it addresses medical decisions. The person you name can make health-care decisions on your behalf if you are incompetent or incapacitated.
Last Will and Testament: This document details how – and to whom – to distribute property after your death, appoints an executor to oversee the distribution process, and may also appoint a guardian to take care of minor children.
If your assets are more extensive, or there are other complications, you may be advised to draft additional documents like a Revocable Trust.
Taking the next steps
Call your estate planning attorney for a consultation. Most attorneys are happy to arrange a remote consultation via Zoom or Skype, or propose a safe way to meet to discuss your needs. Clients who need an attorney referral are welcome to call us at any time.
Getting your basic documents in place is easy, and need not be expensive. Best of all, it will give you enormous peace of mind to know you’ve taken steps to protect your loved ones and smooth the way if you should ever be unable to make decisions. Life has clearly shown us it can throw a curve ball or two. Make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.