COVID-19 and the resulting social distancing and self-quarantining have caused a great deal of anxiety, fear, and concern. It has also brought nuclear families closer. Given the current situation, what better time to update or prepare your estate plan?
As a trusts and estates practitioner, I often receive a flurry of phone calls around the new year when people make resolutions to get their affairs in order. Similarly, when tragedy strikes a loved one, people think about the fragility of life. So too, as each day brings more closures and more quarantines in the Bay Area, the need for estate planning becomes more real.
At a minimum every adult needs a last will and testament, power of attorney, and health care proxy. The last will and testament will direct the disposition of your assets and the guardianship of your children in the event you are seriously incapacitated or die. In the event you die without a last will and testament, California intestate laws dictate the beneficiaries of your assets, and a judge will determine who gets custody of your minor children without your input. A trustee may also be appointed under one’s will to manage the inheritance of a minor child.
A power of attorney authorizes an agent to stand in your place regarding financial matters in the event you are unable to act. Such activities include filing taxes, banking, purchasing and selling real estate, and filing for governmental benefits. A health care proxy is used when you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. As such, it is imperative that your wishes are known to your appointed agent in the event you cannot speak for yourself. Other concerns for estate planning include checking beneficiary designations, purchasing life insurance, and speaking with the elders in your family about their estate planning.
The Law Office of Joseph M. Barton is continuing to “meet” with clients telephonically or via internet. In person appointments are available in certain situations, too. Zoom, Facetime, and conference calls are all good mechanisms for discussing matters pertaining to a last will, power of attorney, and health care proxy. Documents can be shared and discussed via email or a file-sharing system.
Take the first step today and call our office at 415-235-9162 for a complimentary, no-obligation phone consultation.