Wilson+Miller: PREPARING FOR THE WORST: ESTATE PLANNING AND COVID-19
In uncertain times, planning for the future becomes more important than ever. As the spread of COVID-19 continues to impact the economy, our healthcare system, and the unemployment rate, now is the time to brace ourselves. It’s never easy to come to terms with our mortality, but the pandemic has spurred many Americans to get their affairs in order – just in case. To protect you and your loved ones during uncertain times, make sure you have these documents in place:
Will or Revocable Trust
If you want your assets to transfer to your heirs as painlessly as possible, you’re going to need a will. These documents help ensure your wishes are followed upon your passing. Wills are especially helpful for those with modest estates. We view will planning as entry-level, basic planning for our younger clients or clients with limited means. There are far more benefits with living trust planning.
For those with larger, more complicated estates, a revocable trust is what you want. A living trust is the best estate planning tool available. Every state has a different probate procedure for basic wills, so many people opt for revocable trusts that avoid probate. Regardless of which option you prefer, make sure yours is updated to reflect your current wishes.
It’s easy to assume your will or revocable trust will include all of your assets, but that’s not always the case. Life insurance policies, 401ks, and IRAs are all separate, with proceeds going to the person you list as beneficiary. In many cases, people overlook or forget to designate a beneficiary for such accounts, leaving your assets in jeopardy.
Talk to your financial provider about your beneficiary designations. Review these forms any time you have a change in the family. Updating your beneficiaries can ensure your assets end up in the right hands.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Finances
Should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, you’ll want a trusted person (or persons) to represent your best interests. A durable power of attorney for healthcare will grant a person the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. Similarly, a financial durable power of attorney allows you to delegate authority to make financial decisions when you’re unable to do so. These documents are separate, so you’ll want to discuss both options with your estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
These topics are just the tip of the estate planning iceberg. For more detailed, personal recommendations, schedule a time to visit with one of our estate planning professionals. We’re here to help.
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