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Even attorneys procrastinate with estate planning and expediting their will. During times like today, WE should ALL add this to our TO-DO list. Don’t delay in preparing your family and loved ones for your tomorrow. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of a very hard truth – tomorrow is not a guarantee. Now is the time to take advantage of the time sheltering in place has likely given you and begin planning your estate. Fortunately, most estate planning can be done at home. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and let us virtually guide you through the estate planning process.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are or what your financial situation looks like – you need to have an estate plan in place in case something ever happens to you. You don’t know what the future might hold for you and your family, and you don’t want to leave the future of your estate in the hands of probate court. Now is the perfect time to finally get started on an estate plan or update your existing one.
What Do I Need for Estate Planning?
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be wealthy to plan your estate. Even if you do not have a lot of money or property to your name, someone will still have to distribute what you own when you die. If you don’t have a will, that “someone” will be probate court, who will distribute your assets according to state law. This can lead to part or all of your estate being inherited by someone you didn’t want to leave it to. Without a will, the probate process will also take much longer.
By leaving everything to the probate courts, you will be causing needless stress for your family members by extending the probate process, not to mention robbing yourself of the ability to determine where your assets will go after your death. This is why having an estate plan is so essential. While an attorney can help guide you through an estate plan that suits your individual needs, keep in mind that a basic estate plan only requires three essential documents.
First, you will need a power of attorney. This document will designate one or more people to pay your bills, manage your assets, and make decisions for you, should you ever become incapacitated. Generally, the person given this authority is a spouse, a trusted family member, or a close friend. No matter who they are, you’ll want to make sure they know exactly what your wishes are.
The next essential document is an advance health care directive. This document designates someone to make important medical decisions on your behalf, such as selecting a physician, accessing medical records, and choosing whether to put you on life support. An advance health care directive will also allow you to lay our your wishes regarding end-of-life care.
Last but certainly not least is the last will and testament. This document lays out what will happen after your death. This includes determining who inherits your assets and how they will be distributed and designating a guardian for your children. A last will and testament also names an executor for your estate – that is, the person who will ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.
What If I Already Have an Estate Plan?
Many people think that estate planning is a one-time thing. This could not be further from the truth. Your individual circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and your estate plan should be regularly updated to reflect this. As tax season comes to an end, take a look at your financial status – any changes, positive or negative, can impact the distribution of your assets and your tax planning.
There are many other factors you need to consider while spring cleaning your estate plan. Maybe the situations of your intended beneficiaries have changed, or perhaps the person you named as executor of your will can no longer fulfill these duties. You may have to update your documents to take changes to the law or tax codes into account. You might have a different plan for distributing your assets now than you did when you first created your estate plan.
No matter the case, you should be updating your estate planning documents every three to five years or after a major life event, such as a divorce or the death of one of your intended beneficiaries. You are free to make changes at any time, and you should take full advantage of this.
Your estate planning documents aren’t the only things you should be checking up on right now. You should also make sure that your life insurance policy is up to date. Major life events will necessitate changes in your policy – for example, if you recently married, you need to make sure your new spouse will be adequately covered in the event of your death. You might also need to update your designated beneficiaries and ensure that your policy can adequately provide
Plan Your Estate While You Shelter in Place
Even as you work on creating or updating your estate plan, you need to stay home as much as you can. Fortunately, the Don Turner Legal Team can help you take care of much of the estate planning process remotely. Most documents can be sent to and from our attorneys via email and fax, and you can discuss your estate plan with us via Zoom Video Conferencing. We can even notarize your estate planning documents remotely, thanks to Governor Kemp’s April 9 executive order, which temporarily authorizes these measures.
Now is the time to take action and start planning your estate. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring – you need to plan for your loved ones’ future now. Having a plan in place in case something happens to you will give you some peace of mind, and right now, that is something we all need more than ever. Contact our attorneys today and see how we can help you plan your estate.