Estate Planning During A Pandemic: Four Tips
We have a bonafide pandemic on our hands. It’s the kind of contagion warned about in science fiction films and doomsday novels. It’s the stuff of dystopian narratives.
And with that type of real-world malaise comes a mild panic. Maybe even a panic that is more than mild.
“What happens if I get sick tomorrow? What if I’m on a ventilator in a month’s time?”
It is a deeply unpleasant line of thinking, but it can happen.
For some people – possibly you – it may be the first time they have seriously considered writing a Will. While we wish such considerations were arriving under happier circumstances, it is understandable.
Estate Planning In The COVID-19 Era
So for those considering a Will and other estate plans for the first time, what should you think about?
You Need to Select an Executor
The executor is your Johnny-on-the-spot, or Janie-on-the-spot. This is the person carrying out your wishes, and executing the desired outcomes you have listed in your estate planning documents. As Evan Jones wrote in the June 2020 issue of Reading Eagle, having an executor can help you with probate-avoidance too. Probate-avoidance is a condition the court approves, which gives the executor the power to pay debts and pass assets along to heirs.
You Need to Designate Your Beneficiaries
Who will receive your assets? Do you have children, and a spouse? Do you have siblings or cousins to whom you’d want to bequeath certain possessions or accounts? Do you have their most recent contact information on file? Their most current addresses, phone numbers, and email accounts? You need all that.
You Should Name a Durable Power of Attorney
This is for finances. This is for you still being alive, too. If you are hospitalized tomorrow, and are unable to communicate, who can pay your bills on your behalf? Who can manage your accounts so that you don’t default on your mortgage, or miss credit-card payments?
You Should Also Name a Health Care Power of Attorney & Create a Living Will
See #3, but regarding medical decisions. Do you want a “Do Not Resuscitate” order? Do you want a feeding tube keeping you alive? At risk of sounding morbid – if you need to have a limb amputated, do you want to donate any part of it to science, or as a transplant to another person in need?
The Living Will governs your wishes for the end of your life. And, as far as bigger issues to consider – who would you want to take over custody of your child?
Make Your Wishes Known
None of these are easy subjects to consider, but all are pertinent. Having answers to these questions, in a legally binding set of estate planning documents, will ensure that your wishes will be respected.
Imagine all of the important people in your life. Do they all agree? If your mother were to plan your funeral, would it go the way you would want it to go? If your child were to be given access to your bank account in your absence, would that be an easy and smooth transition?
The point here is not to inspire fear. The point is merely to let you know that you can solve these dilemmas without much effort or expense. These estate planning documents can fix these issues for you.