The recent and drastic measures surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have caused us to rethink how we do things and how we prepare ourselves. Where we once thought that we were invulnerable to afflictions of this nature, we now know all too clearly that we are not immune from any such thing.
In the world of estate planning, it simply reminds us that it is essential to be prepared for anything. A good estate plan has an individual prepared for the possibility that they have an unforeseen medical affliction or unforeseen incident that causes them to be limited in their ability to make decisions or causes their death. Like the quick actions of the President and the Governor, preparedness is critical. In our world, it is critically important that you have a Will, Power of Attorney, and Healthcare proxy that will tell the world how you wish to be treated and who will be making those decisions for you.
We are faced with the courts being closed and the entire system placed at a standstill for an indeterminate amount of time. Relying on a court system that cannot function or will not function is problematic. Again, we find ourselves turning to the use of trusts as an alternative to wills when leaving assets to family members. A trust allows us to avoid the court system and pass assets on without the necessity of asking the judge to bless the estate plan.
Any good and well-thought-out estate plan will include a funding spreadsheet that allows for quick reference to assets. This list of assets provides the attorney and the family with a nimble response to emergencies. This list should provide the location of the assets as well as account numbers and values.
In effect, we are the masters of our own universe when it comes to administering the trust and distributing assets after death. You can start by having your estate planning in order but also identifying for your loved ones, where your assets are, where your will is held, the name of the attorney, and how you wish to be treated at your death.
The Governor recently signed an executive order allowing documents to be signed via Internet video connection. This allows us to sign without being in the presence of the clients, and continue doing business despite the current limitations.
I strongly encourage you to make sure your affairs in order, regardless of age so that your family knows how to make quick and accurate decisions when you are incapacitated or deceased. If you are over 75, this becomes all more important and ignoring could be detrimental to your family. In this world of chaos, order comes from preparedness.