Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

The coronavirus is an illness that we cannot ignore. Older adults are especially vulnerable and those who have an underlying issue such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory conditions. Many such individuals are in a position of responsibility and wealth.

There are a few legal documents that all people should review immediately to prepare in the event of illness:

DOCUMENTS TO REVIEW WHEN PREPARING FOR THE CORONAVIRUS:

REVIEW YOUR LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Assets titled solely in individual name and without a beneficiary designation pass through your Last will and testament. Now is the time to review your Last will and testament to make sure it fully and accurately reflects your wishes.

REVIEW YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
Assets such as bank accounts, IRA’s, life insurance, and annuities are distributed to a designated beneficiary upon your passing.
When the beneficiary is properly designated, at your passing, your beneficiary will receive the funds from those accounts outright. Make sure to call your financial institution or check online to review your beneficiary designation. Complete your beneficiary designation if you have not already done so or update them if you want to make any changes.

REVIEW YOUR FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
If you get infected with the coronavirus having a general durable power of attorney is a critical document in your estate planning preparations. A power of attorney allows you to designate an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. Meaning someone is going to be able to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. Having a power of attorney in place allows a trusted friend, family member, or business associate to make withdrawals, pay your bills, or even make a court appearance for you.

The general durable power of attorney is especially important if you have a business or if you are an elderly individual, and you rely upon others to assist you in your day-to-day affairs.

REVIEW YOUR HEALTH CARE PROXY
A health care proxy allows you to designate an agent to make health decisions on your behalf as well as receive health care information from your doctors.

The health care proxy is another crucial document in an estate plan. Having an agent that can make health decisions on your behalf is imperative, especially if surgery is needed or, in general, to be able to communicate with doctors and the hospital regarding your health and treatment.

REVIEW YOUR LIVING WILL
A Living Will (also known as an advance health care directive) is the document where you designate whether you want life-prolonging treatment should you be in a terminal state. A Living Will is a document that explains how you want medical decisions about you to be made if you are unable to make these decisions yourself.

PASSWORDS
Be sure to create a list of your digital assets so your loved ones know what you have and where they can find it. Include all your important passwords, online accounts (including email, social media, banks, etc.), and digital property (including domain names and virtual currency).  Use password management apps such as 1Password or LastPass to simplify this effort, and make sure your family members know how to access it.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ESTATE PLANNING AND THE CORONAVIRUS
The elderly community is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. It is our responsibility to try to do everything in our power to help others during this extraordinary time, where planning is essential to prevent future problems.

If you have any questions relating to estate planning, do not hesitate to contact our office. Our office has remote virtual consultations to facilitate safe planning. Together as a community, we can overcome this crisis.