Now is the Perfect Time for Estate Planning

Working on an Estate Plan During COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought mortality at the forefront of people’s minds. The virus continues to spread fast, affecting millions of people across the U.S. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also resulted in thousands of lives lost, with the number continuing to grow every day.

In times as uncertain as these, it is a good idea to be prepared for different outcomes, including the possibility of contracting the virus. This is especially true for older people who are more susceptible to COVID-19. You can afford your family and yourself a small measure of comfort by planning your estate.

What is Estate Planning?

People perceive estate planning as something only wealthy individuals do, but most people own properties that make up their estate. The process of naming whom you want to receive certain parts of your estate in the event of your passing is called estate planning. However, good estate planning is more than just drawing up a will naming your estate’s beneficiaries. It should also include:

  • An advance health care directive or a living will in case you become incapacitated or hospitalized
  • Instructions on what your beneficiaries will inherit and when they can receive it
  • A power of attorney, which names an agent to act on your behalf in case you become incapacitated or pass away
  • The name of your chosen guardian for your young children
  • The name of your chosen executor

The Importance of Estate Planning

No matter how large or little your assets are, it can still bring a measure of comfort to your loved ones when you pass away. With your affairs squared away, your loved ones don’t have to fight over your possessions because you will have managed to write and sign a will before your passing.

With estate planning, you will also be able to:

  1. Control who gets what of your assets instead of having a state-appointed person distribute your estate in a way that you wouldn’t have approved of.
  2. Protect your children and ensure that they are cared for in case both you and their other parent or your spouse pass away before they turn 18.
  3. Reduce the taxes your heirs or beneficiaries will have to pay after receiving their inheritance by planning ahead.

Why Start Estate Planning Now?

As mentioned above, the COVID-19 pandemic spreads rapidly. Even if you take as much precaution as possible, such as staying indoors and practicing social distancing, you might still contract the virus in some way. Without estate planning, your loved ones might have a hard time making medical decisions on your behalf. And while most people recover, there is still a chance that you won’t, which would mean your untimely passing.

Often, when death is unexpected, the survivors of the deceased are left to pick up the pieces. Without an estate plan, they will have to go through the expensive process of probate and managing the possessions you left behind, as well as paying off any liabilities you may have left behind.

Essential Estate Planning Documents

If you haven’t gone through the estate planning process yet or if you have but you haven’t updated it in a while, now is the time to do so. Make sure you have the following pertinent documents drawn up:

  1. Living Will/Advance Healthcare Directive

A living will or advance healthcare directive is a legal document that provides instructions on your medical care preferences in case you are unable to decide for yourself.

  1. Living Trust

A living trust is a legal contract that allows you to appoint a person to manage your assets when you pass away. With this document, your trustee will be able to manage your assets without the involvement of the court. This also means your estate will not have to go through probate since your trustee can oversee the distribution of your assets.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person of your choosing, called an agent or attorney-in-fact, the authority to act on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. The agent may manage your finances, sell your assets, and sign documents for you. Your power of attorney must be “durable” so it’s still valid even after your passing.

  1. Last Will and Testament

The most important part of estate planning is drafting a will, which allows you to direct how your properties will be distributed at the time of your death. It also allows you to appoint the person who will execute the distribution of your assets upon your passing.

Start Estate Planning Today

In these uncertain times, it’s good to be prepared. Start planning your estate with Miller & Steiert, P.C.’s estate planning lawyers.

Contact us at 303-798-2525 for a consultation.

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