COVID-19 Pandemic: Why It Is the Best Time to Plan Your Estate and Write a Will
With a pandemic affecting the entire globe, many people have started second-guessing their decisions, investments, and strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made people question the health care system and their chances of survival amidst the chaos and falling infrastructures. While a cure for the virus is being tested in labs beyond anybody’s control, the one thing that lies in the hands of the common man is time. The future seems hazy and unclear, which is why this is the best opportunity to utilize the time at hand to write a will and bring in some clarity to what tomorrow holds.
Why is now the best time to write a will?
The uncertainty of the virus has made most individuals fear for the future. Typically, falling ill or facing a medical emergency is associated with the elderly. However, the possibility of falling sick is high for people of every age and gender now. On top of this, the chances of unemployment, pay cuts, or losing investment returns to crashing markets are also at an all-time high. With an overloaded healthcare system, advance medical directives are extremely essential for families to be prepared for unprecedented times. All of this can be addressed in a will. With an unimaginable amount of doubt lingering over everyone’s heads, writing a will can offer people some closure.
The intestacy laws also differ for each state. Most people assume that if they were to die, all of their assets, insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc., will be automatically passed on to their family. However, this may not always be the case. The rules of inheritance can vary for every state. The distribution of a person’s assets depends on many factors like their marital status, age of their children (minors or adults), number of marriages, grandchildren, etc. Some people may be together but not legally married, sometimes people get married but do not legally adopt their spouse’s children; all of these situations need to be addressed in a will.
How to make a will in the middle of a pandemic?
Writing a will usually requires a professional attorney, but it can also be done on the web. Although not entirely safe and conclusive, a will can be written online with the help of many readily available templates. It would still be advisable to consult an attorney in the process. Many legal advisers are offering remote services over the phone or via video calls. So make sure to consult one before proceeding. Another important thing to note while writing a will is the state laws. Every state in America follows its unique set of laws when it comes to estate planning. Some states require the presence of at least two witnesses along with a notary, while other states only require a single witness. Some states may also consider a handwritten will in urgent situations. It is important to find out these stipulations to avoid any confusions or lapses in the future.
Writing a will is not enough alone, and one must also assign an executor. An executor is a person who carries out the person’s wishes, as stated in their will. This person will be responsible for making sure that an individual’s assets reach their rightful heirs as specified in the estate plan. Picking an executor is a crucial task. One needs to carefully analyze the pros and cons of picking the right person for such a job. Given the current climate, it is also essential to pick a successor executor who can take over things in case the primary executor is incapacitated or absent to carry out the appointed tasks.
Most individuals complain that they do not have enough time on hand to plan their estate. With everyone in quarantine, people should now take the time to speak to their children, grandchildren and spouses and find out their opinions and needs before drafting a will. This is especially necessary in case of a family business, joint property, or ancestral home.
What are the other essential documents apart from writing a will?
An estate plan is not limited to just writing a will. There are many other important considerations that individuals need to think of. For instance:
- A living will: This document will contain directions on how a person wants to proceed in case of a life-threatening ailment. A living will contains instructions on life support, medication, etc. in the case of partial or complete disability.
- Power of attorney: A power of attorney can be of two types; financial and medical. A medical power of attorney will allow family members to make crucial medical decisions on the patient’s behalf. On the other hand, a financial power of attorney will allow someone to make financial decisions for the individual. This can include making bill payments, taking real estate decisions, etc.
- Other assets and accounts: It is essential to revisit all old documents, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts, and update the names of beneficiaries. A will alone is not a comprehensive document. In some cases, the court will give precedence to the names of beneficiaries mentioned on these accounts rather than the will. Individuals must make sure that the names match on all documents.
Last but not least, estate owners should also let their family know where they have kept their will and other documents. This can save precious time in urgent situations and save the family from further stress in an already difficult time.
To sum it up
The Coronavirus pandemic is a tough time that is making people doubt their chances of survival. But instead of panicking, one must pay attention to the things in their control and plan ahead for the future. Making an estate plan by writing a will is one of the most essential things in the current times. Individuals should treat it with urgency and get to it as soon as they can.
If you are finding it hard to write a will and need professional help, you can reach out to financial advisors.