As we sit at home and wait for it to be safe to move about as we used to, without worry of contracting a highly contagious and deadly virus, we find ourselves contemplating our own mortality. We begin questioning if our family will be financially taken care of if we are wiped out by the virus, if we have left our mark on the universe in a positive manner, and, if we are spiritual, if we are ready to meet our maker. Failing to have some incredibly basic estate planning documents in place can leave our loved ones legally disadvantaged and potentially helpless. There is no more important time than this pandemic to take care of business. And, it is easy. One call to an estate planning attorney is all it takes to get this COVID-19 monkey off your back, to say you have done all you could do to position your loved ones for success and yourself for the best chance at recovery.
There are two important medical truths about COVID-19 that cause legal problems for each afflicted. First, COVID-19 causes incapacity in a large number of cases. Second, COVID-19 could kill. We offer the following legal solutions to both.
Incapacity. When a person is incapacitated by illness, that person cannot direct medical treatment and or manage finances. The person’s credit, portfolio and family all suffer. In this time of extreme economic uncertainty, no one can afford a hit in any of these areas. By signing a health care power of attorney, living will declaration (if desired), and a financial power of attorney, an incapacitated person has nothing to worry about because a trustworthy person will manage all financial matters and direct medical treatment.
- Who will keep your credit in good standing, pay your mortgage and other bills and file your tax return? In your financial power of attorney, you choose an agent to do these tasks for you.
- Who will direct your health care? In your health care power of attorney, you choose an agent to be in the driver’s seat with respect to all critical decisions.
- Who will know to pull the plug? In your living will declaration, you will make your declaration.
Without powers of attorney, a local probate court must appoint a guardian to run your finances and your health care, publicly. The guardianship process is costly, can take months and is uncertain for loved ones, who may not be eligible applicants to serve as your guardian in the court’s eyes. It pulls focus away from the incapacitated person getting better and the million other tasks stay-at-home has added to our plates.
With e-notarization, powers of attorney and living wills can be executed from the comfort of home, making stay-at-home no excuse for every adult in every household. Are you prepared? We want you to be prepared. We want to help you be prepared. All you have to do is call.
Death. When a person dies, the person leaves loved ones with the job of settling last affairs. By planning ahead, every person can create a process that is less expensive, more efficient and most importantly, accurate. Every adult should have a last will and testament (“Will”). Adults with minor beneficiaries, disabled beneficiaries, a taxable estate, or a desire for a trusted individual
to manage money for a beneficiary should also have a trust to compliment the last will and testament.
- Who will raise your children? In the Will, you select the guardian of minor children.
- Who will receive your assets? In your Will and trust, you name your beneficiaries.
- Who will settle your estate? In your Will, you designate your executor.
- Will your beneficiaries have to wait for their inheritance while the probate process takes place? They might not if you and your attorney discuss and implement probate avoidance strategies.
- Will your beneficiaries inherit as much as they could from you? They will if your beneficiary designations are well-planned. In Ohio, general creditors can only make a claim against probate assets. Don’t make the mistake of funneling life insurance and retirement assets through your probate estate.
You have the power to make things easy on those you leave behind. Will you? We want you to be prepared. We want to help you be prepared. All you have to do is call.
The Family Wealth & Estate Planning group at Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP is 11 attorneys strong. We are partnering with more clients than ever right now to initiate and update estate plans. We are taking new clients. All you have to do is call.