Let’s be honest. Many individuals rarely consider the importance of preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents and, accordingly, would rather defer the task to a later date. Unfortunately, with recent events brought on by the global onset of COVID-19, the lack of planning has left some in a precarious situation, wondering whether their estate plans are adequate to provide for their family in accordance with their wishes.
Fortunately, it’s not too late. This prolonged disconnection from ordinary commerce and daily life may provide the right time to reflect on what is truly important and how you would like your affairs handled after you pass. The Law Office of Joseph M. Barton is working extra hours to ensure our clients’ estate planning needs are met during this crisis and that the appropriate documents are in place in the event of catastrophe.
Although the shelter-in-place orders undeniably create obstacles to having critical estate planning documents prepared and notarized, we continue exploring creative means of having documents safely signed and notarized. In addition, the easy accessibility to video conferencing and file-sharing technology allows us to communicate with our clients in real-time as if we were sitting in our office.
At a minimum, you should consider taking advantage of this shelter-in-place time to create a basic journal listing important information about your life. The list should include:
All monthly bills and household expenses;
Homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and see if you can locate the actual policies;
All taxes you pay, including real estate taxes, and know where your most recent tax returns are kept;
Important passwords for online accounts; and
A summary of your investments and bank accounts.
Having these items prepared ahead of time and letting someone know where this information can be accessed will lessen the burden on family members who would otherwise be left scrambling to re-construct your financial life. It is a demanding task for most people to face the drain of working through both grief and the financial realities following the death or incapacity of a loved one. Taking the time to do this now will give everyone great peace of mind at a time when it is most needed.