COVID-19 underscores the importance of estate planning.
You are sitting at home.
Schools and businesses have been closed.
You are rationing toilet paper. (Who saw that coming?)
You cannot see your loved ones.
Could things be any worse?
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “Coronavirus Legal Advice: Get Your Business and Estate in Order Now,” the answer is yes.
You could die or become incapacitated in the midst of the COVID-19 without an estate plan.
How bad could this be?
Are you a business owner?
Without a succession plan in place, you will risk leaving your company in a tough situation.
Who will take control? Legally, that is, and with proper legal authority to act in your stead?
Your business may fail or it may weather the challenges, but either way it will be costly.
Do you need an estate plan if you are not a business owner?
Without a general durable power of attorney, you will have no one legally able to pay your bills, file your taxes, or manage your finances if you become incapacitated.
In addition to a general durable power of attorney, you need an advance health care directive.
With your advance health care directive, you can name an agent to make your medical decisions on your behalf and provide instructions regarding end of life care.
If you are not married to your partner, this is especially important.
Not all states give rights to domestic partners.
Estate planning also should include preparations for death.
For this, you likely should consider a trust or a last will and testament.
What should you do if you already have an estate plan?
Review your plan.
Do you have contingent beneficiaries in place in case your current beneficiaries predecease you?
If your designated heirs precede you in death, then your life insurance and retirement funds may be subject to probate.
If you already have these documents in place, you also need to make sure your legal documents are organized.
Your family members or agents should know the location of your estate planning documents, life insurance policies, legal documents, financial records, and important contact information.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure your affairs are in order.
Reference: Kiplinger (March 16, 2020) “Coronavirus Legal Advice: Get Your Business and Estate in Order Now.”