When Bad Things Are Good Reminders
As we venture into uncertain times around COVID-19, it may have caused you to realize that you either have not done your estate planning documents (will, health care proxy, and/or power of attorney) or that they need to be updated. With many of us working remotely or staying home to flatten the curve, it is the perfect time to either put the appropriate documents in place or update the ones that you have. You may be thinking, “Can I still have these documents drafted and executed when we’re not supposed to be sharing physical space with other people?” The answer is yes.
While this current situation is tricky for everyone and very disruptive to our “normal,” it is allowing us to explore new ways to accomplish things. The area of estate planning is no exception. If you have an attorney who can utilize available technologies, there is no reason that you can’t get these documents completed. It is possible to use video conferencing (Skype, Webex, Facetime, etc.) in coordination with email or good old “snail mail” to execute the necessary paperwork and make sure that you are fully protected in these uncertain times.
Further, as a result of this existing health emergency, many courts in the State of New York are closed or only accepting emergency filings. This change includes Surrogate’s Courts (the court in New York State that handles estate administration matters), which are currently not processing new filings unless they are of an emergency nature. In the unfortunate event that a family member or friend passes away during this time, you will be unable to set up their Estate to pay off final bills, distribute assets, or sell their house. Now is the time for proactive planning, such as adding a joint account holder to bank accounts or making them “payable on death” accounts, adding a family member to a deed, or gifting certain funds. Another step to consider is to set up a “pre-plan” for your funeral expenses. If possible, make all of the arrangements and pay for them now, which will alleviate the need for someone to be able to either access your funds or utilize their own funds to cover your funeral expenses.
We are in unprecedented times, but it does create an opportunity to protect you and your family, as long as you have an attorney who can utilize technology and outside of the box thinking to assist you. The key to successful planning is taking action as soon as possible, while you’re still alert, aware, and healthy. Our goal is to ensure your peace of mind throughout the entire estate planning process. We can help you develop an end-of-life care and estate plan that meets your needs and allows your loved ones to understand your wishes.
Contact us today to learn how our team of attorneys can help you plan for your future. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 529-4543 or firstname.lastname@example.org