Estate Planning during uncertain times. What in the world is going on? One day, we are living our best lives, freedom, liberty, and an economy that just wouldn’t quit. Then, enter stage left, Covid-19. It seems, at least for many of us, that our world was uprooted and flipped on its head. Stay at home, wear a mask, shutting down a robust economy, disease, death, children out of school, and more. It seems like a bad nightmare, or maybe the script from Hollywood.
If this summarizes how you are feeling right now, you are not alone. For many of us, there is an air of uncertainty falling on us like a heavy fog. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I think it is during times like these that we can help the most. Whatever your profession, vocation, or skills, what can you bring to the table to help others find peace of mind?
When I ask myself this question, of course so much of what I do on a daily basis is designed specifically for times like these. Uncertain times.
The next couple of paragraphs are going to be a reminder for many of you, but maybe a call to action for others. We encourage you to share this post, and more importantly, add a comment or link to how you help people achieve peace of mind during uncertain times.
Four things you can do on your own.
- Update your beneficiary designations. Think: financial accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, vehicle titles, life insurance, and other financial or titles assets. For many of the financial accounts, you can update your beneficiaries on-line through your employer, bank, or other financial institution. When is the last time you looked?
- Medical Power of Attorney/Medical Directive. If you are a Missouri resident, the Missouri State Bar Association has a standardized form and instructions for these documents. We use a slightly modified version of this form in our own practice and help many families fill them out. The form can be found HERE. Make sure you follow the instructions, there are some legal requirements that must be met for it to be valid.
- Share and talk. This is one of the most often overlooked aspects of estate planning. We know some topics are hard to talk about. However, what better way to help your loved ones than to let them know what you want? More importantly, by sharing your estate planning objectives with your family, you are helping them to think about their own. In our experience, families that share and talk about these sorts of things during life, tend to be better prepared for handling them after.
- Review your estate plan… if you have one. We recommend reviewing your estate plan at least once a year. We also recommend that you visit with your attorney at least once every 3-5 years. This is a great way to remind yourself what you have, and what has changed. There have been some fairly significant changes (i.e. the Secure Act) and it never hurts to take a look.
How we can help.
Now, or later, most of us are going to need help navigating the complex world of estate planning, probate, and trust administration. Our office works with families, of all sizes and shapes, to help them achieve peace of mind through careful planning. We do this by helping them design an overall strategy to care for those they will one day leave behind. And, by helping them navigate the often murky waters of administering a loved one’s estate after they pass.
Estate Planning during uncertain times means our office has had to make some adjustments. Right now, we are conducting our planning sessions via video conference and teleconference, and in-person upon request. We are still holding our signing ceremonies in the office, but have added a ‘drive up’ service. It means sanitizing the office after each visitor and at least daily. For those unable to come to the office, we are approved to conduct virtual signing ceremonies. (Note: This is a temporary authorization, as detailed in Governor Parson’s Executive Order, and we recommend it only in extreme situations.) Lastly, it means answering a lot of calls and emails to help our community alleviate stress.
Final words of wisdom.
The Covid-19 pandemic will subside and be a subchapter in history books before too long. Yet, right now, we can’t seem to get far enough away from it. My passion is helping people achieve peace of mind through legal tools like wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, beneficiary deeds, estate administration, and the like. For me, estate Planning during uncertain times, is all I do.
You have unique talents and knowledge that can help people as well. Please share some tips or knowledge with my friends in the comments. Link to your website or an article that may be helpful to someone. We are all in this thing called life together, and I can’t think of a better time to share our knowledge with one another. Please contact us if there is anything we can do to help.