Often, in our busy society, people don’t find time to put their affairs in order. They think “This can wait” or “I don’t have time today.” However, death is unpredictable. Especially in the current pandemic we are living in. Many people are finding themselves ill, with the symptoms coming on rapidly and without warning. In order to stop the spread of the disease, patients who are hospitalized with coronavirus are kept in isolation. This means that a family member or estate planning attorney can’t get through to put together a will or power of attorney. A power of attorney can appoint someone to make medical decisions for you in the case of your incapacitation (something that is very likely if you contract COVID-19). You need to get ahead of this before it becomes a problem. You want to make sure your affairs are in order in the unfortunate chance you catch coronavirus.
Things to Consider
When finalizing your affairs, there are a few things you should put together before meeting with an attorney. You can, of course, put these together with an estate planning attorney if you need help, but if you can put these together yourself, you can speed up the process.
- List Out Your Assets – Make a list of all of your assets. This should include any real estate or properties you own, vehicles such as cars and boats, personal effects like jewelry and valuables, and life insurance policies or 401Ks or other bank accounts. This step may take some time, but make sure you are thorough.
- List Beneficiaries – Make a list of everyone you wish to leave something to. You do not have to determine who will receive what at this point in the process. Just having a list of those who you wish to leave something to will help when planning your affairs with your estate planning attorney.
- Take Care of Your Children – This is a step for you to dictate who will be the guardian of your children if you have them, and how you wish for them to be raised. While a judge does not have to follow these wishes, it is more likely if you have a firm plan set in place. Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate based on age. Many young parents are contracting the illness. Make sure you have the best interest of your kids in mind when creating a will or trust.
- Dictate Your POAs and Directives – There are many different kinds of power of attorney. Deciding who will make financial decisions, medical decisions or the power to sign documents on your behalf can all be laid out in an estate plan.
Wills & Trusts
Many people who are planning for the end of their life are unsure about whether or not to create wills or trusts. An experienced attorney can help explain the difference between the two and can help determine which is best for your situation. Commonly, people use them in tandem with some assets being passed through trusts and others in the will.
Trusts are a popular way of avoiding probate. You can also dictate when the assets or funds in the trust can become available to the beneficiaries. There is even such a thing as a revocable living trust which allows you to revoke the trust while you’re alive. Wills do not have the exemption to probate but are often more practical for certain situations.
Take the first steps and start planning your affairs while you’re in good health. It’s better to be safe than sorry as we live through this deadly and unpredictable coronavirus. If you’re in the Bay Area, set up a free 30-minute virtual consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys. We’re experienced, and strive to make the difficult process of estate planning easier for our clients. You can set up your free virtual consultation here.