Importance of Estate Planning During a Pandemic

During the pandemic, it may seem as if time has been suspended. Nonetheless, during this period of limbo, those paying attention have realized that the need for estate planning has become more urgent. If ever there was a wake-up call --- COVID-19 is it. This is why committed estate planning attorneys throughout the country have remained open to provide professional legal counsel in this time of stress, though, of course, with strict safety measures in place.

Why Estate Planning Is a Necessity During the Pandemic

The concept of estate planning is formulated around the need to plan for the future. As the coronavirus vividly demonstrates, the future is not predictable. While most of us understand the inevitability of aging and death, we back away from the various scenarios that may less typically confront us. We don’t even let ourselves contemplate the possibilities of life-altering accidents, illnesses, or financial misfortunes that may impact our loved ones or ourselves. While it is delightful to imagine future grandchildren, successful careers and businesses, and an extended retirement, no one wants to picture a pandemic -- yet here we are.

The strange situation we find ourselves in raises feelings of fear, uncertainty, and loss of control. The best way to counteract such feelings is to be proactive. Planning your estate during this challenging time will help you to protect your assets and your family from the unknown, and, as such, will provide you with a sense of stability and empowerment. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning team will enable you to chart your course, preparing for storms as well as for smooth sailing.

What a Strong Estate Plan Can Help You to Accomplish

An accomplished estate planning attorney is well-prepared to assist you in:

Preparing a Will in which you will designate your beneficiaries and a guardian for your minor children (in the event you pass away while they are still young), and in which you name an executor to see that your final wishes are carried out.

Planning for Incapacity

Imagining one’s own physical or mental incapacity is painful and disturbing. Nevertheless, the fact is that our chances of losing physical and/or cognitive capacity increase as we age. It is certainly better to prepare documents and not require them than to face emergency needs unprepared. A competent estate planning attorney will make certain that you have the following essential documents just in case you need them:

- Durable power of attorney (POA)
- Health care proxy
- Living will
- HIPAA authorization

Establishing Trusts to protect your assets from probate and taxes, and to meet other important needs, like:

- Providing for minor children not yet able to handle money
- Providing for a family member with special needs
- Providing for a family member with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or compulsive spending
- Providing for a beloved pet you leave behind
- Providing for your own potential incapacity

Trusts can be extremely beneficial in protecting your hard-earned assets from taxation, predatory creditors or the bad habits of a beneficiary. They can also help you or a loved one maintain eligibility for government benefits, while still allowing your lifestyle to be supplemented by funds from your trust, if you are, or become, disabled. Your well-informed estate planning lawyer will know whether you require a revocable or irrevocable trust, and precisely how your trust should be structured and worded to guarantee the best outcome for you and your family.

Avoiding Probate is often desirable since the process of proving a will’s validity through judicial determination can be complicated and expensive, especially if you have a sizable, complex estate. Your attorney can help you avoid probate by creating carefully constructed trusts, arranging for joint property ownership, establishing retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and setting up bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) or “in trust for” designations.

Preparing a Lady Bird Deed

If you are fortunate enough to live in Florida, Texas, Michigan, Vermont or West Virginia, your estate planning attorney can craft a Lady Bird (“enhanced life estate”) deed to allow you to preserve eligibility for Medicaid while continuing to permit you to control your property during your lifetime.

Preparing for Business Succession

If you want your company to survive even when you can no longer manage it, you have to prepare for your potential illness, disability, retirement, or death. Whether you are the owner of a small business or the head of a large corporation, you should have a well-constructed business succession plan to ensure that your legacy is preserved.

There Is No Time Like the Present to Get Your Estate Plan in Order

If the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that the right time for estate planning is now. With capable estate planning attorneys available whether you’d like to come in for a personal visit or take care of matters through telecommunication, there is no reason to procrastinate. Whether you are ready to create your first estate plan or to amend an existing one because of a major life event, such as a birth or marriage, don’t wait: protect your family’s future today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carey Thompson
Carey Thompson has been practicing Social Security Disability Law Since 2008 after he graduated from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth, TX. While at Texas Wesleyan he served on Law Review. Prior to going to Law School, Mr. Thompson was a High School Band Director for four years using his degree in Music Education from Michigan State University. Prior to attending Michigan State, he attended Aledo Schools from Kindergarten to graduate. Mr.Thompson feels strongly about serving the people of Tarrant County.

Copyright Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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