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Pandemic: Time to Update Estate Plans

It is always important to periodically review one’s estate planning to ensure that it stays up to date with client goals, changing circumstances, current tax law and more. This spring, with the enormous impact of the pandemic on most of us, is certainly a time to consider our planning and how we are protecting our loved ones. The task may seem daunting, but it is worthwhile to make sure a plan is in place no matter where you are or the state of your health.

Of course, if you are in one of the riskier categories for the pandemic, it is imperative to take a look at your situation and to be sure that things will be taken care of appropriately if you become ill, or worse. The process is more than simply reviewing your beneficiary designations or the dispositive provisions of your will or revocable trust. Understanding how your assets will flow, the estate and income tax consequences of the plan, any friction or complication in valuation or transfer of assets and more should all be understood.

Further, identifying and naming trusted persons to act in a fiduciary capacity – personal representative, executor, trustee, holder of your power of attorney – may be critical to the success of your planning. The same consideration should apply to naming a health care surrogate or the holder of your health care power and to completing items such as your living will and any health care directives. In naming anyone for these tasks, make sure they understand your intent and are (at least presently) willing and able to undertake those tasks if necessary.

For all of these aspects of your planning, professional advice and drafting of the required documents is necessary. This may also involve taking special steps to ensure proper execution, notarization and witnessing in a time when social distancing and restrictions on movement may impact the process. 

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