Published on 5/21/2020
The spread of COVID-19 has been challenging for us all, and largely out of our control. Amid all the uncertainty, one thing we can control is how we are able to protect our family in the event of an unexpected illness or death. Getting your affairs in order to ensure your loved ones are protected during this current pandemic is particularly important and can offer peace of mind within these troubling times.
Some may want to start an estate plan they have been putting off for years, others may just want to simply update or finalize estate plans pieced together years ago. As times change, so do our families, assets, and life objectives. This could include children who are grown and able to manage your healthcare and estate matters, changes to your financial situation, or a new marriage or family dynamic. Any changes require that we take a fresh look at our intentions and wishes, including:
- Identifying which members of your family have legal authority to direct your medical care if you become ill
- Choosing who your assets pass to at your death
- Taking steps to protect beneficiaries who are or who become mentally incapacitated
- Directing how your children are cared for in the event of your death
- Ensuring your financial affairs to remain private when you pass away
There is no better time than now to review and update your estate plan, especially given much of it can be done from the comfort of your own home. Here are four ways on how to best use the current time at home to organize your estate plan:
- FIND and organize your important documents. As we’ve cleaned out that extra room for our home office, or just started some annual Spring cleaning, set aside and organize those important documents that will be useful to set up your comprehensive estate plan, including your Revocable Living Trust, Last Will & Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, and any other planning and related documents. Share relevant documents, or the location of such documents, with caregivers and family members. If you are just getting started instead, contact your professional advisor for a questionnaire to guide you through what is needed.
- REVIEW your beneficiary designations and titling of accounts. Ensure your beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement accounts, as well as any payable on death or transfer on death designations, are consistent with your estate plan and are current. Review the titling of all accounts for the same reasons.
- UPDATE your named fiduciaries. Your documents may appoint family, friends, or professional fiduciaries to administer your estate, make financial and health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to, act as guardian for your minor children, and administer trusts for beneficiaries. It is important to make sure you have named appropriate persons for these roles.
- UTILIZE and take advantage of beneficial planning opportunities in this current environment. Low interest rates and depressed values provide unique opportunities for gift, succession, and estate planning.
The lawyers in Ryan Swanson’s Estate Planning & Probate Group strive to keep estate planning straightforward, affordable and accessible. We have the technology in place to help you through the estate planning process safely and securely. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to consider what we can do to protect ourselves and our families. When things get back to normal, it will feel good to know you have taken the steps to ensure your family is secure in the future, no matter what that may be.
We are here to help you plan for the future or answer any questions. Please contact any member of Ryan Swanson’s Estate Planning & Probate practice group to review your estate plan or get started.