How Do I Make a Will, Living Will, or Trust During COVID-19 / Coronavirus?
As a result of the national emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are increasingly concerned about what would happen if we or a loved one became infected and want to get a plan in place to protect ourselves and our families. This reminds me of Mike and Susan, a couple I recently worked with. Mike and Susan were on their way to the airport to visit their kids for the holidays. Less than ten minutes from the airport, a car in the lane next to them lost control, clipped their car, and they collided with the concrete meridian separating the east and west bound lanes of the highway. Their car was totaled. They were fortunate to walk away with only minor injuries.
As Mike and Susan sat in my office sharing their story, Mike said, “As the car was spinning, everything slowed down, and in that moment, and in the days following the accident, Susan and I realized that if something happened to us, we had left a real mess for our kids. They would not have had the authority to do anything, would not have known what we would have wanted, would not have known who to call, what and where our assets were, nothing. It would have been an incredible and expensive mess, and that is why we are here.”
Just like with Mike and Susan, as we are quarantined at home, dealing with Covid-19, many of us are realizing that if something were to happen, we have left a mess for our families and many of us are going online to learn about how to make a will or otherwise get an estate plan in place. And while some of the information out there is really good, some of it is wrong and can cause real problems.
As an estate and elder law planning attorney, over the last 23 years I have taught estate planning techniques to over 25,000 attorneys and financial professionals across the country. I’ve written several books and guides on estate planning and have appeared on numerous national and local media outlets. And over the years, whether I am teaching across the country, or working with one of my private clients, I consistently see a lot of common misunderstandings about planning.
For example, in an emergency, a will is not the most important document you and your family need. In fact, I would argue that it is not even in the top three most important documents. That is because a will only has legal affect after you pass away. In fact, while you are alive, a will is just a piece of paper and does nothing to help you and your family. Now, do not misunderstand, I am not saying that you should not have a will. In fact, everyone should have one. Rather, I am using that as just one example of the common misconceptions I see.
And, that is why I have written Planning for Coronavirus: The Legal Guide to Planning for Covid-19 and Other Emergencies.
In it I explain:
- The most important documents you need to have in an emergency.
- The pros and cons of wills and trusts and how you can choose which one may be best for you, particularly in an emergency such as the current pandemic.
- The important health care and financial planning documents you need to have.
- The items you absolutely need to include in your plan and some of the important things that are often overlooked.
- Some of the strategies and tactics I use with my private clients - that they did not even realize that they could do - that can add additional protections for you and your family.
- I also include a simple, 9-point checklist, which you can use to make sure you have a complete plan in place.
Even if you have a plan in place, in my experience, many existing plans are either outdated, not fully implemented, or have holes in them. I routinely see wills that were drafted 15 or 20 years ago when mom and dad were taking that first trip without the kids and wanted to get something in place and they’ve been sitting in a drawer and haven’t been looked at since. The laws have changed significantly in just the last few years alone. Undoubtedly your family and your assets have changed, and that old will is probably not the plan you would want for your family right now.
Even if your plan is just a few years old, it may not be fully implemented, or may even have holes in it that can cause big problems for you and your family just when they need it most. That is also why I have prepared the Estate Planning Check-up. This is a simple quiz you can complete in just a couple of minutes. Simply by answering a few questions, you will know whether or not your existing plan is up to date or may need to be revisited. Click here for a direct link to the quiz.
I will be publishing the book later this year and it will be for sale on Amazon and at your local retailer. However, for a limited time, you can download a pre-publication version for free by completing the form below.
And don’t worry, we do not share your information with third parties.
If you are concerned about your family during this national emergency, and want to make sure you have a plan in place to protect yourself and them, then fill out the form below to request your free copy of Planning for Coronavirus: The Legal Guide to Planning for COVID-19 and Other Emergencies. And if you want to find out whether or not your existing plan will work when your family needs it, click here to request your copy of our other publication, Estate Planning Check-up. It will only take you a couple of minutes.
I hope you find the information helpful as you put a plan in place to protect yourself and your family. Be well.