As I said back in March, I avoided writing about getting your estate plan done because I didn’t want to appear to be taking advantage of people’s fears. But I’m back again with Part 2 of my thoughts about estate planning.
Really these are good principles for any time but I think that because so many people have been shaken by the virus — will I get sick, will my parents get sick, will my job be safe, and so forth, that it has magnified the need for proper estate planing.
What is an estate plan? It may be a will. It may include a durable power of attorney for financial needs. It may include a medical directive and living will. It may include a trust. It may include a deed of gift. If you’ll forgive me, I will repeat myself and tell you that 40% of Americans have not done any estate planing.
In addition to wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives (including living will), and deeds, I am now providing a covid-19 addendum to a medical directive for those clients that want one. It is a document that you can fill out with your specific directions if you (God forbid) come down with this horrible virus. What happens when you don’t have a medical directive? Your family may be unable to make proper medical decisions because they have not been authorized by you to do so.
Do you have bank accounts in your name only which exclude a spouse? If you get ill, will your spouse have enough money to pay for your care or household expenses? If you provide a durable power of attorney for your spouse, your spouse will have access to your financial accounts and can then take care of your bills, among other things that a power of attorney may be useful for.
As I said in March, wills set out how your family will inherit your property and who will take care of the tasks involved in settling your estate (paying the bills, collecting money you are owed, distributing your assets). So many people wait until the last possible minute to get a will prepared. In some circumstances, clients have started the process and never got to sign the will. An unsigned will is … a piece of paper.
While Virginia is opening up, I am still required to maintain social distancing protocols: 6 feet between us, wear a mask, and strict sanitizing policies. I am asking all clients to please wear a mask if coming to the office. I can provide one to you.
I’m consulting with clients remotely by phone and by video conferencing for initial consultations. I have a private video chat room and you don’t need anything more than a computer with a camera and a microphone. I reevaluate seeing clients in person regularly but will not be seeing any clients for initial consultations in person for a few more weeks.
I am meeting with clients in person for signing documents and I have the notary and the witnesses so you do not have to bring anyone with you. We are using disposable pens, keeping everyone 6 feet apart, and swabbing down the office in between each appointment. It’s a lot of work but I want to ensure that my staff and my clients are as safe as possible.
We are in a new world. I don’t know when things will go “back to normal” or if they ever will, but I am right here with you. Call for an appointment for your estate plan.
©Copyright 2020 Suzan D. Herskowitz