Has the Covid-19 pandemic cast a shadow of fear and uncertainty over your life? This year, in the face of a global pandemic, National Estate Planning Awareness Week offers an opportunity to learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your business, even in the face of a looming health threat like Covid-19. Estate planning can offer much needed peace of mind and a feeling of control when everything else seems so uncertain. Every estate plan should include:
1. A Durable Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives an agent the authority to carry on your financial affairs and protect your property by acting on your behalf when you are incapacitated. The power of attorney gives the agent the ability to pay bills, write checks, make deposits, sell or purchase assets, and sign tax returns.
2. A Health Care Surrogate: A health care surrogate is a legal document that gives an agent the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incompetent or incapacitated. If you are over the age of 18 and do not have a health care surrogate, your family members will have to request that the probate court appoint a guardian to make these important health care decisions.
3. A Living Will: A living will allows you to indicate what kinds of end-of-life care you do and do not want. Without this document, your family will be guessing what kind of care you would have wanted, decisions which are often fraught and stressful.
4. A Last Will and Testament: Your will is the legal document that directs distribution of your property at the time of your death. In the absence of a will, a court will decide who should oversee the distribution of your assets, and who will take care of your children. Distribution of your assets will be dictated by state intestacy laws as opposed to what you would have wanted.
5. A Revocable Trust: A revocable trust can manage your assets both during your life and after you pass. This can be a great tool for maintaining privacy and for ensuring that your wishes are followed both during end-of-life and after you pass. Also, for high net-worth individuals, a revocable trust can help to ensure that you are estate tax consequences to you and your family.
These are legal tools that can be critical, even under better circumstances than living in the midst of a global pandemic. For estate planning legal support from our experienced team, please contact our office today.