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Estate Planning Survival Tips for COVID-19

By Natalie A. Roberts & Jeffrey M. Gad | Categories: Articles, COVID-19 task force, Trusts & EstatesPrint PDF March 2020

In these trying times, we have all been contemplating our mortality. It is a struggle to reduce our anxiety. However, we can only do what is within our control. One step we can take right now is to review our estate planning. Knowing we have all our ducks in a row, so that if something happens to us, our estate plan will work as it should, can provide a measure of relief.

Johnson Pope’s estate planning attorneys are here to work with you. Our firm is fully operational. We can meet virtually, talk on the phone, and eventually arrange to sign documents remotely.

We have assembled a list of items for you to consider when reviewing your estate plan. As you review your objectives, consider the following questions:

1. Do you have updated medical directives in place? These may include a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate, Living Will and HIPAA Authorization. Is someone authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to do so?

a. Do you have medical directives in place for any minor children, in case one or both parents are incapacitated for any reason?

b. Do you have medical directives in place for any dependent adult children?

2. Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney in place, so that if you are unable to manage your financial affairs, your agent can act on your behalf? Does the document give your Agent access to your financial information, including your online accounts?
3. Do you have a current Last Will and Testament?

a. Are the people you name as Personal Representative and/or Guardian of your minor children (if any) up to date and consistent with your wishes? Are there successors named?

b. Have you made arrangements for your pets?

c. Have you made provisions for special items such as firearms or collectibles?

4. Do you have a current Revocable Trust (which can help avoid probate)?

a. Does your estate plan provide for distribution of your assets in a manner that achieves your objectives?

b. Are the individuals named as Trustees and Successor Trustees and Beneficiaries of your Trust current and consistent with you wishes?

c. If you have a trust, is it “funded”? In other words, have you transferred title to your assets and accounts to the Trustee of your trust?

5. Are the beneficiary designations and pay-on-death forms for your various accounts current, and consistent with your objectives?

a. Do you have copies of your designated beneficiary forms for life insurance policies?

b. Do you have copies of your designated beneficiary forms for your retirement accounts?

6. Do the people you have named in your documents know where your estate planning paperwork and any other important documents (e.g. tax returns, insurance policies, vehicle titles etc.) are located?
7. Do you have specific instructions for burial/cremation?
8. Reassess how your assets are titled to ensure that this is consistent with your estate planning objectives. Are the assets owned jointly? Do you have any payable on death or transfer on death accounts?
9. Have you discussed with your attorney asset protection and wealth preservation in conjunction with your estate planning and business succession planning objectives?

If you would like to discuss your existing plan, or if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. These are frightening times, and it helps to take steps to mitigate our fears. Reviewing your estate plan is relatively easy to accomplish and very, very important. We are here for you.  Our mission here is to take care of our clients when it really matters. Please let us know how we can help.

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