4 Estate Planning Tips to Consider During COVID-19

POST DATE: 4.23.20
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As we continue to maneuver COVID-19 and its repercussions, CCHA is here to bring to you the latest in trusted legal insight and perspective.

Estate planning -- an often neglected part of financial planning -- seems to have become a top priority for many during the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether concerning protecting your family, money or property, taking this time to review and adjust your estate plan is wise.

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Here are four tips CCHA recommends during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Documents You Need

Mortality, especially in the case of a pandemic, isn't something we generally want to think about, but given the severity and reach of the virus, it is something every adult over the age of 18 needs to consider. CCHA recommends anyone 18 or older should have/get: a will, Power of Attorney for Health Care (HCPOA), Power of Attorney for Property and a living will.

There are four standard legal documents we recommend planning for and securing during this time:

  • a will: this legal document sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children.
  • a Power of Attorney for Health Care (HCPOA): a legal document that allows an individual to designate another person to make medical decisions for him or her
  • a Power of Attorney for Property: a legal document transferring the legal right to the attorney or agent to manage and access the principal's property in the event the principal is unable to do so themselves
  • a Living Will: a document that gives your Health Care Agent guidance on your wishes regarding life support.

2. Designate a Financial Power of Attorney

This document allows you to appoint a person or organization to manage your property and financial affairs if you become unable to do so. However, all POAs are different.

3. Create a Special of Limited Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney allows an individual to specify a responsibility that can be handled by someone else. The document cancels itself either after the action has been completed or on a future date. The form can be written for handling any type of financial-related matter on behalf of the principal such as having access to mail/safety deposit boxes, bank accounts, retirement benefits, tax filing, or any other legal type of transaction.

  • Durable Power of Attorney: means language exists in the document that states an agent’s authority continues to apply if you become incapacitated. There is no automatic deadline by which these powers expire. A durable power of attorney stays effective until the principal dies or until they act to revoke the power they’ve granted to their agent.
  • Healthcare or Medical Power of Attorney: a type of power of attorney where you authorize a trusted agent the ability to make medical treatment decisions in you are incapacitated.

4. Check Your Guardian Designations

When it comes to your children, it’s important to not only name one guardian, but also a successor guardian. Natural parents are a major consideration when the Court approves a guardian. A surviving spouse will most likely be appointed guardian if that spouse is the natural parent of your minor child (or children). However, a surviving natural parent will have the same status to become guardian even if that natural parent was not your spouse. Contingent guardianship is an extra protection in the event your chosen guardian passes, becomes disabled, becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol or in some other way becomes unfit to be guardian of your children. At that point in time, you will need to have designated contingent guardians. CCHA recommends designating at least one guardian as your first choice, as well as a successor guardian.

CCHA is equipped and prepared to help you with all of your estate planning needs. Sarah Randall + our attorneys have assisted many families in transitioning their estates to family members in an efficient and tax-effective manner. CCHA is your trusted legal resource now and during COVID-19.