Coronavirus in 2020: Do You Have Estate Planning Documents?
While estate planning should be a concern for all adults regardless of age, most people think of estate planning as something for seniors or individuals diagnosed with a terminal illness. However, some recent news headlines suggest U.S. citizens could be facing a coronavirus pandemic. Even if you have never thought about making a will or health care directive before, the threat of a coronavirus outbreak should prompt you to consider some of the most essential elements of an estate plan.If you are a doctor, nurse, aid worker, first responder or member of the military and have been in contact with someone that may be infected with coronavirus, you should take the necessary steps to execute estate planning documents that will protect your loved ones and communicate your memorial preferences in the event you become ill.While ideally you should meet with an estate planning lawyer for a comprehensive review of your estate planning needs, the reality is you may not have enough time to do that or may lack the financial resources to pay for estate planning advice. Nevertheless, a lack of time or money does not mean you cannot put together several critical estate planning documents for your own benefit and the benefit of your loved ones and pets.
The Most Important Estate Planning Considerations
If you do eventually contract the disease, you may wish you had estate planning documents in place to address the following questions: 1. Will someone I trust be authorized to make medical decisions on my behalf 2. Will my health care providers honor my preferences regarding life support, pain medication, and other types of end of life care 3. Is the person I want to serve as legal guardian for my minor children named in a valid will 4. Who will care for my pets while I am incapacitated or if I do not survive 5. Will my family or friends have any way of knowing my last wishes regarding burial or cremation 6. Have I made a valid will or living trust and taken other precautions, such as purchasing life insurance and reviewing how I hold title to property, to ensure my partner, children or other dependents will be financially secure if I become terminally illAs mentioned above, a thorough estate plan would address a much broader scope of issues than those highlighted in this article. For example, a detailed estate plan would typically evaluate your goals with regard to gifting, inheritance, charitable giving, and legacy planning. It might also review how your estate plan will be impacted by estate taxes or your choices regarding long term care and retirement accounts.
Nevertheless, if you are very concerned about coronavirus and want to execute some very basic estate planning documents to ensure your most important concerns will be addressed if you become ill, this article provides a short list of documents you should consider having prepared as part of your overall plan for dealing with a possible coronavirus outbreak.
If you are concerned about putting together a basic estate plan in the event you are affected by coronavirus, you may also want to consider taking the additional steps outlined below.First, if your estate plan names a guardian to care for your minor children, consider writing a letter to child guardian.
Next, review all property deeds and leases to determine how your spouse, partner, children, and other dependents may be impacted if you were to pass away suddenly. A will and living trust are not the only documents that will determine who controls your property after your passing. Reviewing how title to property is held is a necessary step to ensuring your heirs and beneficiaries receive what you intend. After reviewing your property deeds and leases, it is important to ensure you have named beneficiaries on your financial accounts. Check your bank, retirement, pension, and annuity accounts to ensure you have named primary and contingent beneficiaries on all your accounts.
Finally, if you have pets or other animals, one very important part of estate planning is to make arrangements for someone to step in and care for them if you become incapacitated. This can be done by making a pet trust. To learn how, see pet owners estate plan.
A Good Estate Plan is Complicated
Although the documents listed above can be used to put a basic estate plan in place, you should consult a licensed estate planning attorney as soon as you are able to do so. By implementing a very limited or simple set of estate planning documents, you may be overlooking important issues that could have very serious, detrimental consequences for you and your heirs and beneficiaries. Many estate planning lawyers offer free consultations so you can determine whether you require legal help. Pennyborn.com features many estate planning books, estate planning software, and free estate planning forms that can help you determine what additional steps you can take to prepare.Copyright 2020 Pennyborn.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Updated February 26, 2020.
INFORMATION ON THIS SITE, INCLUDING ARTICLES, ESTATE PLANNING FORMS, AND THE ESTATE PLANNING BLOG, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL, FINANCIAL OR TAX ADVICE. Pennyborn.com is not a law firm and is not a substitute for a lawyer. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Information on this site is for educational purposes only and may not be accurate, complete or up to date.
For information about Pennyborn.com and how to advertise on this website Contact Us.