Estate planning during the coronavirus pandemic: 3 tips for success
Putting together an estate plan is a good idea, but it is one that many people tend to put off for another time. Some people may believe they do not have the time to get these documents in order while others may feel that since their mortality is not currently in question, they do not need these documents. The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed this conversation. This experience has proven a worldwide example of how life can change in an instant. As a result, either due to increased time at home or the realization of the importance of these documents, many have taken that first step towards putting together an estate plan.
Those who are looking to put together a plan may have questions about how to do so during the pandemic. You can still put together a solid and enforceable estate plan. This piece will provide some tips and discuss strategies that work for most.
Tip #1: Discuss your goals
It is important to have an idea of what your goal is with your estate plan. For some it is simply too manage the distribution of assets to heirs. For others, it may be to reduce tax obligations. Having a better idea of these goals can help guide the estate planning process from the beginning.
Tip #2: Prepare for different documents
A well-crafted estate plan will often consist of more than just a will. Those looking to reduce tax applications, may use one or multiple trusts. Other legal tools to include in the estate plan may include and advanced healthcare directive, powers of attorney, and guardianship documents.
An advanced healthcare directive, or living will, provides information about your health care wishes. These documents generally come into play when you are unable to communicate your wishes. This could be because you are in a coma or otherwise incapacitated. Powers of attorney documents can provide a named individual with the ability to control your financial affairs. This can be useful in the event that you are hospitalized and unable to access your accounts. This individual can be tasked with paying bills and otherwise managing your financial affairs to better ensure that you are not behind when you regain your health. Those who have children are wise to also get guardianship documents. These documents name individuals to help take on the care of young children in your absence.
Tip #3: Know the practicalities
Each state requires specific protocol in order for an estate plan to be valid. A failure to follow these rules can result in a plan that would not withstand a challenge. In Florida, for example, a will is not valid without the signature of two witnesses. Offices have adjusted during the coronavirus pandemic to help meet this criterion while still maintaining social distancing. You can also bring your own pen and wear a mask to further reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
Even during the pandemic, it is still practical to not only get an estate plan in place, but to tailor one to your needs.