During the coronavirus pandemic, government and healthcare officials are advising people to stay put and limit socialization. This might be a hard adjustment for many people, but why not use “social distancing” and quarantining to your advantage?
You can use this time at home to solidify your estate plan – an investment in your peace of mind and the wellbeing of your loved ones. And you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. During this coronavirus lockdown, The Estate, Trust, and Elder Law Firm is open! We’re offering telephone, Skype, Zoom or FaceTime interviews to help you ensure the legacy you desire!
If you are caring for a long-term care patient, now is a good time to help them get their estate planning documents in order. You can help them by scheduling a consultation with us. During this emergency, we are offering free consultations to anyone who has a loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home and also to anyone caring for a frail senior at home.
Why Act Now?
Being quarantined or limiting social interactions is a great time to get started on estate planning, but really, estate planning should always be a priority. The future is always uncertain, and acting now can help you ensure that your wishes are met. Estate planning is more than just leaving assets to beneficiaries. Estate planning documents also include power of attorney. Power of attorney helps make sure that your desires are carried out even when you no longer have the ability to make decisions.
What Documents are Essential in Estate Planning?
Estate planning is more than just drafting a will or trust. Keep reading to understand all the important elements of estate planning. Let’s start with power of attorney since that is one step that many people neglect.
- Power of Attorney
There are two important forms of power of attorney. Durable power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney.
- Durable Power of Attorney is an agent or a person you assign to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. Without a power of attorney, a court may be left to decide what happens to your assets if you are found to be mentally incompetent, and the court’s decision may not be what you wanted.
- Healthcare Power of Attorney designates another individual (typically a spouse or family member) to make important healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity.
A will or a trust may sound complicated or expensive—something only rich people have, but everyone should have a will or trust, even if you don’t have substantial assets. Wills ensure that property is distributed according to an individual’s wishes (if drafted according to state laws). Some trusts help limit estate taxes or legal challenges.
- Beneficiary Designations
A beneficiary is someone who you choose to receive your assets after you die. If you don’t name a beneficiary, or if the beneficiary is deceased or unable to serve, a court could be left to decide the fate of your assets, warns Investopedia. A judge who is unaware of your situation, beliefs, or intent is unlikely to make the same decision you would have made.
- Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is a document left to your executor or a beneficiary with the purpose of defining what you want to be done with a particular asset after your death or incapacitation. Some letters of intent also provide funeral details or other special requests.
- Guardianship Designations
While many wills or trusts incorporate this clause, some don’t. Your choice to include this aspect of estate planning depends on your situation. If you have minor children or are considering having kids, picking a guardian is incredibly important and yet unfortunately sometimes overlooked. You’ll want to ensure that the individual or couple you choose shares your views, is financially sound, and is genuinely willing to raise children, advises Investopedia. As with all designations, a backup or contingent guardian should be named as well. Without a guardianship designation, a court could rule that your children live with a family member you wouldn’t have selected, or in some cases, the court could mandate that your children become wards of the state!
How to Get Started
There’s never been a better time to get your estate in order! Contact us for a consultation today. Remember, we’re open during this pandemic and we are offering free consultations during the coronavirus outbreak to anyone who has a loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home, and anyone caring for a frail senior at home. Get started by calling our Port St. Lucie office at 772-878-7271 or by contacting us online.
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