COVID-19 Pushes Estate Planning to the Forefront


Use Social Distancing Downtime to Get Your Estate Plans in Order

With the recent pandemic of Covid-19, more Americans are realizing they need to get their estate planning affairs in order and quickly. Suddenly, things you have been putting off are now possible with your new productive downtime at home. Help yourself de-stress and achieve peace of mind by using your downtime to create and finalize your estate plan. Many people think, “I don’t make enough money or have enough assets to have an estate plan.” Or, “I don’t even own an ‘estate.’” Wrong. In the eyes of the law, an “estate” is simply all the property you own, both outright and jointly—including bank accounts, real estate, household effects, stocks and bonds, vehicles, jewelry, retirement accounts, and even pets. So, if you have a pet, you have an estate to protect.

Estate planning is a process in which someone specifies how their money, property, and medical care should be managed during life and/or after their death. It simply involves drawing up and finalizing one or more documents that give a legal voice to someone’s wishes. At a minimum, every adult should have an advanced healthcare directive and will as their estate plan. An advanced healthcare directive allows you to instruct healthcare providers about medical treatments if you are no longer able to express yourself—and it also names someone to oversee your care. A will is the most basic estate planning document there is—and for some people, it represents the only estate plan they need. A will can be used to dictate several different things, including how to divide up property, guardianship, debts, and more. But in many situations, such as those who own property or predict any family disputes, a trust is necessary to minimize or eliminate court involvement.

Estate planning is a necessity for every adult, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no amount of wealth or assets that decides who gets to have an estate plan. An estate plan is for everyone, especially your loved ones, as it will remove any burdens of decision-making for them. Here is the good news: estate planning does not have to be depressing, and the sooner you get started, the better off you and your family will be. There is no time like the present to finalize your wishes, especially before a medical crisis arises.

In March 2020, Wired Magazine published an article stating now is a good time to address some of the personal life projects you’ve been putting off. “Drafting a will or updating an existing one doesn’t have to be a morbid process if you look at it as just another form of personal organization.” According to Allison Tait, a law professor who studies trusts, estates, and family law at the University of Richmond adds, “It’s a good idea for everybody to have a plan and a good time to think about it. There’s more free time in the day for many people, and the contextual circumstances of a global pandemic might certainly lead people to think about these things.”

Most steps of estate planning can happen completely at home. At the Law Office of Michael Paul, PLLC, you can meet with your attorney virtually, and draft documents will be sent via email or standard mail. You will only need to “meet” with your attorney to sign certain papers before witnesses and a notary. The Law Office of Michael Paul, PLLC, offers a parking lot service where you can sign the papers in the safety of your car while witnesses and the notary observe. Originals and a copy of all signed documents are then passed safely through your window to limit physical contact.

As we come to grips with our new realities as Americans, we are reminded of what is important – our health, our family, and our peace of mind. Take this downtime as a gift and put yourself first by preparing your wishes. The Law Office of Michael Paul, PLLC, was created to help you embrace the future and give you peace of mind. We strive to preserve your legacy for future generations to come. Finally, we’ll get through this together. Stay safe!