No doubt about it: coronavirus has forced many to spend more time with family and at home. While there are certainly disadvantages to pausing usual routines, the extra time can also be viewed as a great opportunity to examine personal, financial and legal affairs.
Estate planning is one such legal affair. The current outbreak has many questioning why they have been putting such an important matter off for so long. However, recognize that some of the most common reasons for delay are now mitigated, including:
- TIME. Many of our clients start conversations saying, "We have been meaning to do this for years, but ..." So often, we hear from individuals and couples who have delayed planning because they simply lack the time to spend focused attention on it. However, stay-at-home orders and sometimes reduced work and social schedules mean that time may be more abundant now.
- INDECISION. Not knowing yet what you want in the end is no reason not to start. For example, parents sometimes have different opinions of who should serve as legal guardian for their children at their death. A disagreement like that can lead to delays in just beginning a conversation with each other or an attorney. More time spent together might bring clarity on important decisions, and our attorneys can also help guide those conversations to a productive result.
- DENIAL. Finally, as humans, it is in our nature to live as if death or serious illness are - and always will be - decades in the future. While we certainly hope that is the case, the reality is that death does not discriminate and sometimes approaches much sooner than we would expect. Never has this been more obvious than in the midst of a global pandemic. The sudden urgency this brings can be a good motivator to take a closer look at what is surely inevitable, at least in the long run.
After you ensure your own physical health is cared for and while we await the rebirth of our regular routines, we suggest doing your own estate planning check-up. Below is a checklist of tasks that should be tackled while you have time, clarity, and a realistic mindset.
Estate Planning Check-Up
- Update your financial asset summary (list all of your assets, approximate values, legal owner, and location)
- Label tangible items (jewelry, household furnishings, etc.) with the intended recipient at your death
- Check the title on your bank accounts
- Confirm the beneficiaries listed on your life insurance and retirement plans
- Document your usernames and passwords for computers and online accounts
- Talk to family members about your end-of-life wishes which should be documented in your health care power of attorney and living will
- Pre-pay and decide on the details for your funeral
- Secure a burial plot or mausoleum space
- Review your estate plan with an attorney to determine if any updates are needed
Contact us if you need help with any of these tasks or have questions about where to start.