Why Estate Planning matters during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and what you can do to prepare.

On March 17th, the outbreak of Coronavirus has grown to at least 4,226 cases, and numbers are still growing. According to the CDC, Florida alone is ranging from 101-200 reported cases, and the elderly is a suspectable target. The elderly and those with any underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problem, and diabetes are more like to see an increase in this serious illness. As Coronavirus continues to sweep through the nation, this leaves many individuals with the feeling of uncertainty. Many advisors are continuing to tell individuals to “stay the course” and ride this rollercoaster out. This advice leaves people uneasy when looking back from the lessons that were learned in 2008. Time is valuable right now to take action for this pandemic. We have an obligation to prepare and protect our loved ones in this infectious crisis. While this topic is always a hard conversation to have, estate planning is now more than ever a critical tool that can be used to assure that your wishes are carried out in the event of death or incapacity. There are four essential estate planning documents that can help ease the uncertainty of this pandemic and provide a plan for the Coronavirus.

A Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney:  A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone you choose the ability to have the power to act on your behalf and make decisions. This can be done through a Healthcare Durable Power of Attorney, which is essential during an outbreak like Coronavirus. This will ensure that you receive the healthcare needed if you become ill.

A Financial Durable Power of Attorney: A financial durable power of attorney can put your mind at rest when it comes to having someone designated to manage your finances. Many times, when a crisis like this happens, this is the last thing we want to think about or have the headache of making these decisions. By having someone designated to take over the finances, this ensures your loved ones will be provided with financial security.

A Will or Revocable Trust: While having to mourn a death is already one of the hardest things to deal with, worrying about assets and where they go after your death is the last thing you want to worry about. A Will has the ability to ensure where your assets will go after death and avoid the costly and time-consuming headache of probate court. A revocable trust essentially does the same thing in which it allows you to avoid probate. The revocable trust is known as a “living trust,” which is implemented during your lifetime. This enables you to manage your assets or protect if you become ill, disabled, or start to deal with the challenging effects of aging. A revocable trust allows you to revoke or amend them whenever you wish to do so.

Payable on Death Financial Accounts:  There are specialized bank accounts that are recognized under U.S State laws, which is payable on death or what is known as a Payable on Death (POD) account. These accounts have the ability to be set up for checking, savings, and money market accounts. What a Payable on Death account does is allow for money to pass directly to the designated beneficiaries that are named on the account holder. The great benefit of a POD account is that it avoids the need for probate; the only thing necessary for beneficiaries to obtain control of the account is providing the original death certificate to the bank manager.

Many documents need to be notarized. This can be problematic for those who have high risks, live in nursing homes, or have been quarantined.  For these individuals, there is a service that provides online notarizations.  For $25, Notarize.com will provide an online notarization.

The future is unpredictable right now, but your assets do not have to be. Take this time to prepare for you and your loved ones. Other ways to prepare is to review and update all of your beneficiary designations, establish a trust, clearly state where you want your assets to go, and talk with an estate planning attorney.

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