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Pandemic Highlights the Importance of Formal Estate and Medical Planning

April 07, 2020

While we can all take precautions against infection – or spreading an infection – there is no failsafe way to avoid the coronavirus at this time. Responsible actions should include not only social distancing and proper hand washing, but also planning for the possibility that the virus may have a more direct and life-altering effect on you or your loved ones.

In the happiest of times, many people find estate planning to be uncomfortable and often put it off. At the very least, the conversation about what to do if you fall seriously ill or worse is rarely described as “enjoyable.” Still, after finalizing a plan, most people feel a strong sense of relief and comfort knowing that they have expressed their wishes, answered questions before it is too late and protected their families.

The need to memorialize your desires regarding the control and division of your assets and the health care decisions that may need to be made on your behalf has never been more important or immediate. In these uncertain times, even a little certainty can provide some measure of control and peace of mind.

An effective estate plan should include, at minimum:

  • a will to direct the disposition of your assets
  • a durable power of attorney to allow a trusted agent to manage your affairs in the event you are not able
  • a health care directive to explain your wishes with respect to lifesaving or life-prolonging options

Depending on the complexity of your personal and business affairs, other estate planning vehicles may be used to take full advantage of available tax benefits and avoid unnecessary taxable events and complications.

Fortunately, while there may be some case-by-case obstacles, creating and finalizing a proper and comprehensive plan can still be done quickly and efficiently from wherever you are.

Phelps’ estate planning team is available to advise clients on both basic and complex arrangements. We are closely monitoring developments that may change how trust and estate documents are executed, witnessed and notarized under the restrictive conditions brought about by the coronavirus.