In the pandemic, it is a good idea to know your affairs are in order. If you already have an estate plan, it may be time to review it with an experienced estate planning attorney, especially if your family has had a marriage, divorce, remarriage, new children or grandchildren, or other changes in personal or financial circumstances. The Pointe Vedra Recorder’s article entitled “Estate planning during a pandemic: steps to take” explains some of the most commonly used documents in an estate plan:
Will: This basic estate planning document is what you use to state how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. You name an executor to coordinate the distribution and name a guardian to take care of minor children.
Financial power of attorney: This legal document allows you to name an agent with the authority to conduct your financial affairs, if you are unable. You let them pay your bills, write checks, make deposits and sell or purchase assets.
Living trust: This lets you leave assets to your heirs, without going through the probate process. A living trust also gives you considerable flexibility in dispersing your estate. You can instruct your trustee to pass your assets to your beneficiaries immediately upon your death or set up more elaborate directions to distribute the assets over time and in amounts you specify.
Health care proxy: This is also called a health care power of attorney. It is a legal document that designates an individual to act for you, if you become incapacitated. Similar to the financial power of attorney, your agent has the power to speak with your doctors, manage your medical care and make medical decisions for you, if you cannot.
Living will: This is also known as an advance health care directive. It provides information about the types of end-of-life treatment you do or do not want, if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
These are the basics. However, there may be other things to look at, based on your specific circumstances. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney about tax issues, titling property correctly and a host of other things that may need to be addressed to take care of your family. Pandemic estate planning may sound morbid in these tough times, but it is a good time to get this accomplished.
Reference: Pointe Vedra (Beach, FL) Recorder (July 16, 2020) “Estate planning during a pandemic: steps to take”