The pandemic crisis is causing more people to consider their estate planning needs in this time of worldwide uncertainty. Alarmingly, America now has more active cases of COVID-19 than any other nation. Symptoms remain mild for most people. But our lives have been disrupted in a way that has forced us to collectively consider our own mortality. The following are some thoughts on the importance of having an estate plan during this global emergency.
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Why it Matters
Everyone’s situation is unique, but planning ahead offers all of us more peace of mind. Each state has its own intestacy laws, which determine who receives your property in the absence of an estate plan. Essentially, if you don’t leave behind a will, the state makes one for you.
Maybe you live with a partner but choose to remain unmarried, or you have children from a previous relationship. Family dynamics are often complex. Unfortunately, without legal documentation, it’s highly unlikely your wishes would be fulfilled if you were to become suddenly sick during the pandemic.
Also, keep in mind that states have separate execution requirements. For example, does your state require one or two witnesses? Can documents legally be notarized online?
Other Documents for Pandemic Preparation
Of particular importance during the pandemic are documents that go into effect while you’re still alive, such as a health care surrogate, living will, or power of attorney.
Most people understand a POA authorizes someone to act on your behalf. A health care surrogate is similar in that it appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you’re no longer able to choose for yourself. Sadly, this is a critical aspect of estate planning, especially now because many people are intubated during treatment for COVID-19.
How We Can Help During the Pandemic
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now. No one quite knows what to expect, and the news changes by the hour. But it’s better to have some kind of plan in place, rather than no plan at all. It can always be revised as circumstances evolve. Stay safe, and for help getting your documents in order, please contact our office at (925) 447-1250.