The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people live and work virtually overnight. It’s also impacted many other areas of people’s lives, including their estate planning processes. An estate plan protects your assets, but it also provides you peace of mind when it comes to medical treatments and financial issues.
Many people put off estate planning until a later date, which can be catastrophic when faced with a serious illness. Here are some essential documents that should be created or updated to ensure you and your estate are properly safeguarded during this uncertain time.
Along with a will, which is considered a cornerstone of estate planning, having a revocable trust in place is also crucial. Property and assets you own can be placed into the trust (known as funding the trust) while you’re still alive. After you’re gone, these assets will be passed along to heirs in the manner you see fit. For instance, you may choose to provide assets to an heir after he or she completes college. You can also disperse assets according to a certain schedule, instead of in one lump sum.
One of the greatest benefits of a revocable trust is that it can help your estate avoid probate. Probate is the process of authenticating the will, paying off debt, and finally dispersing items to heirs. Because assets placed into a revocable trust are owned by the trust itself, they’re aren’t subject to probate. Revocable trusts also keep information about your estate private, unlike wills, which can be accessed by the public.
While wills and revocable trusts protect your assets, living wills protect you. These documents stipulate your wishes for end of life medical care. For example, you can stipulate what kind of life-saving procedures you would like in the event of a terminal illness or injury. Some people choose to forgo resuscitation or artificial breathing apparatus for palliative care (which is aimed at providing a person treatments and medication that make them comfortable, but don’t actually extend their lives).
Having a living will in place is crucial to ensure your end of life wishes are honored. Without this document, tough decisions will be left to your family members. Along with an unbelievable amount of stress, your family may be at odds with your final wishes. You can also stipulate a healthcare power of attorney, which names a person to make these decisions for you if you’re unable to make your desires known.
Financial Power of Attorney
When serious illness incapacitates you, making financial decisions will be all but impossible. Along with selecting a healthcare power of attorney, you should also consider a good candidate for financial power of attorney. This person is afforded power over your estate to make essential financial decisions in your absence.
How much power this person receives is typically up to the estate holder. This person may be able manage a business owned by your or sell off property to pay your debts. He or she may also be imbued with the power to pay bills by taking the funds from your bank account. The person you choose to stand as your power of attorney should be trustworthy, reliable, and have a good head for financial matters.
Getting clear and concise answers for estate planning questions is crucial during this time. Roybal-Mack & Cordova, PC understands the urgent nature of these requests, and we’re equipped to provide clients in Albuquerque the same quality of legal services we always have. Contact us today for more information on living wills, powers of attorney, and trust creation.