Pandemic? Time For An Estate Planning Checkup!

Our lives have been upturned with the Covid-19 pandemic. When families are faced with sudden hospitalizations, life becomes chaotic. If you have aging parents or minor children, who will protect them if you can’t?

It’s time for an estate planning checkup!

Estate planning is critical not only to provide for your loved ones after your death, but also to protect yourself and them while you are alive. If you are suddenly incapacitated, who will take care of your financial, medical, and legal decisions?

Follow this helpful checklist to see what to update and what to put on your “to do” list:

(1)  Do you have an updated list of bank accounts, stocks held, retirement accounts, pension plans and other assets?

YES:   Update your list with current information. Make sure someone knows what assets or benefits you have and how to access them.

NO:    Make a list! Include contact information on those accounts. Detail the assets and benefits you have and how to access them for your care.

(2)  Do you have a Financial Power of Attorney?

YES:  Is this the person you still want to make your financial decisions? If not, make a new durable power of attorney and revoke the old one. You may have to contact your financial institution to notify them of the change.

NO:  Make a durable power of attorney and name your spouse or a trusted family member or friend. Let them know they are your agent and provide them with your list of assets and benefits. Give them a copy of the document.

(3)  Do you have a Health Care Power of Attorney? 

YES:  Is this the person you still want to make your medical care decisions? If not, make a new healthcare power of attorney and revoke the old one. You may have to contact your medical institutions to notify them of the change.

NO:   Make a healthcare power of attorney and name your spouse or a trusted family member or friend. Let them know they are your agent and give them a copy of the document. Discuss how you want to be treated and what lifesaving and life-prolonging measures to take.

(4)  Do you have an Advance Medical Directive or Living Will? 

YES:  Is this the person you still want to make your end-of-life decisions? If not, make a new living will and revoke the old one. You may have to contact your medical institutions to notify them of the change.

NO:   Make living will and name your spouse or a trusted family member or friend. Let them know they are your agent and give them a copy of the document. Discuss how you want to be treated and what lifesaving and life-prolonging measures to take.

(5)  If you have a business concern or investment property, do you have a plan if you cannot manage them?

YES:  Review your plans and make any updates if necessary.

NO:   Make a succession plan of who will continue the business and how you want those investments handled. Detail your instructions of how the business or investments should be managed or sold.

(6)  Do you have a will and/or trust?

YES:  Is your will and/or trust updated and in accordance with your wishes? Do you still want the same executors, trustees, and beneficiaries? If not, you need to make amendments to your will and/or trust.

NO:   Make a will to dispose of your assets according to your wishes. Look into the benefits of creating a trust for asset protection.

(7)  Are there specific items such as jewelry, a car, or art that you want given to a specific person?

YES:  Is this written down, signed and dated? Where is the document?

NO:  Make a will and list specific items with the beneficiary name. For example, to my niece, Karen, my Christmas Spode china set.

(8)  Do you have a safe or safety deposit box?

YES:  If you have a safety deposit box, with what bank? Who is authorized to access it? Where can a key be located? If you have safe, where is it located? Who has the combination, code or key? What is stored there?

NO:   Do you have other places you keep valuables? How can it be accessed if you die?

(9)  Do you have life insurance policies? 

YES:  If so, who are the insurance companies, where are the policies, who are the beneficiaries, and what are the benefit amounts?

NO:  Determine if life insurance something you may want to consider for your situation. Especially if you have dependents who need financial help after you die.

(10) Do you have any wishes regarding funeral arrangements? Burial? Cremation? Organ donation?

YES:  If so, do you have these arrangements written down? Does someone have a copy to follow them?

NO:   Write down any specific instructions you want after your death. For example, if you served in the military, do you want military honors? Do you have any charities that you want donations to be made in your honor?

Once you conduct your estate planning checkup, put all documents and papers into a family information binder. Notify your loved ones where to find these documents in case of an emergency. If you have aging parents, you will want them to do their own estate planning checkup. Life during a pandemic is uncertain, protecting your family shouldn’t be.

Written by: Catherine Hodder, Esq.

AUTHOR BIO:
Catherine Hodder, Esq. is author of Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids.

To learn more, go to: www.HodderInk.com