The COVID-19 crisis has reshaped life in New Jersey; and, while progress is being made toward developing a vaccine, there is currently no clear end to the pandemic in sight. The pandemic has forced many people to adjust their priorities, and it has caused many people to reconsider their planning needs as well.
5 Important Estate Planning Considerations Related to COVID-19
When it comes to estate planning, there are several ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting people’s needs. Here is an overview of five important estate planning considerations related to the ongoing health crisis:
1. Do You Have an Estate Plan?
First and foremost, it is more important now than ever to make sure that you have a solid estate plan in place. This is true regardless of your age, your health, your finances and your family circumstances. Preparing an estate plan provides certainty for you and your loved ones. It can help your family avoid unnecessary stress and costs should you become sick and incapacitated or succumb to an illness or injury.
2. Is Your Estate Plan Comprehensive?
To be sufficiently comprehensive, an estate plan should include several documents. In addition to a will and a revocable trust, this includes an advance directive and a power of attorney. An advance directive provides guidance to your healthcare providers if you become incapacitated and unable to directly convey your wishes, as well as authority to an agent you appoint to act on your behalf in accordance with your wishes. At the same time, powers of attorney allow your chosen loved ones to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf, especially if you become disabled or are unable to care for your financial affairs yourself.
3. Is Your Estate Plan Up-to-Date?
If you currently have an estate plan, is it up-to-date? As a general rule, it is recommended that individuals review their estate plans every three to five years or whenever a significant life event (i.e., the birth of a child or grandchild) occurs. If it has been a while since you reviewed your estate plan, you will want to make sure that your choice of personal representatives, trustees, beneficiaries, guardians, healthcare directives and powers of attorney still reflect your final wishes.
4. Are Your Loved Ones Aware of Your Estate Plan?
An estate plan is useless if it merely sits in a safe in your closet. To be sure that your wishes are carried through, it is important to ensure that your loved ones are aware of your estate plan’s key provisions and how they can access your plan if and when it becomes necessary to do so.
5. Are You Aware of Your Loved Ones’ Estate Plans?
During the COVID-19 crisis, it is especially important to be aware of your loved ones’ estate plans as well. Will you have a role to play if a loved one becomes severely ill? Will you know what to do if a loved one succumbs to the virus? While these are issues that we all hope we never have to address, these are important questions to which we should all know the answers.
Speak with a New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
If you have questions about preparing or updating your estate plan during the COVID-19 crisis, we encourage you to speak with one of our New Jersey estate planning attorneys. To schedule a remote consultation at your convenience, please call 877-435-6371 or contact us online today.