We often think about estate planning before a vacation, before a surgery or after a major milestone like a wedding or birth of a child. These important events remind us to do estate planning and focus on the need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from uncertainty. The global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has many of us thinking about things we normally do not think about, what could happen and so many uncertainties. Regardless of what causes you to think about estate planning, now is always the best time to act. We all need to plan for what could possibly happen. To protect yourself and your family, it’s smart to be certain that you have the following these documents prepared and updated, says private financial and investing company, Motley Fool’s recent article entitled “The Coronavirus Should Have You Thinking About These 4 Things.”
- A will or revocable trust. Be sure that your assets will pass to those who you want to receive them after your death. This is critical during crisis times. You don’t want to make things any harder than they need to be. Create an estate plan to avoid potentially expensive and time-consuming processes like probate, which will have greater importance, if your family is confined to their homes in a quarantine situation.
A simple will can cover what happens to your assets at death. This typically works well, especially for modest estates. State laws differ on how complicated a probate process would be with a basic will. Some people opt to use a fully funded revocable trust that doesn’t require probate. For either a will or a revocable trust, make sure that it’s up to date and reflects your current preferences and family circumstances.
- Updated beneficiary designations. If you have an IRA, 401(k) account, or life insurance policy, those you name as beneficiaries of that account will receive the proceeds, despite a totally different from arrangement in your will or trust. Many of us also don’t designate any beneficiary for these accounts, which means added complications in the event of death.
- Healthcare power of attorney. When we’re in the midst of this Coronavirus, it’s even more urgent that you’ll be able to get the healthcare you need, if you’re hit with this illness. A durable power of attorney for healthcare will give the individuals you choose the ability to make whatever medical decisions you specify on your behalf. An estate planning attorney can help you draft documents that match your specific wishes.
- Financial power of attorney. You can designate an agent to help take care of your finances, if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your financial affairs. A general durable power of attorney for financial matters is another document that lets you delegate responsibility and authority to make financial transactions to the person you name.
Estate planning may not have been on your list of things to accomplish this month, but our current circumstances remind us that now is the right time to think about estate planning. It is important to take action now and work to protect yourself, your family and your loved ones.
Reference: Motley Fool (March 8, 2020) “The Coronavirus Should Have You Thinking About These 4 Things”