The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the entire world. We all know the changes to our daily lives, the loss many have experienced, and that our “new normal” may never be the same.
The question I am addressing today is, has COVID-19 changed how we do estate planning? The short answer is no, but the answer can also be more complicated than that.
Whenever I meet with a client we always discuss their concerns and goals. Oftentimes they have recently experienced a loss which triggered them to think about their own planning or lack thereof. I have seen this more and more where the danger and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has prompted many to consider their own estate planning and what would happen if they became seriously ill.
Although many people are feeling more of an urgency to complete their estate planning, from a legal perspective the planning is the same. We want to plan for incapacity using Power of Attorney documents. We also want to avoid probate and taxes through the use of Revocable Living Trusts. We want to make sure all of our documents are up to date in terms of who we have named as the Trustees, Executors, Power of Attorney agents, and beneficiaries. These estate planning principles remain the same.
However, one aspect of change is our increased ability to work with clients virtually and remotely. The laws on estates and trusts have been slow to adapt to technology. Most estate planning documents require witnesses or notaries (sometimes both) and need to be signed on physical paper with physical ink. Although these requirements remain more or less unchanged, we now have the ability to work from anywhere and more importantly connect with clients wherever they may be. Many estate planning clients are seniors, may have mobility challenges, or just feel more comfortable meeting over a video conference than in the office. This increased access has allowed us to work with clients that we may not have been able to help in the past. Any time we can increase access to legal services, everyone wins.
If you have questions about setting up a comprehensive estate plan, please contact us today!