The continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for everyone to have a comprehensive and current estate plan that includes a will, a patient advocate designation and appropriate power of attorney documents.
Top of mind for many of us during the pandemic has been the possibility of incapacity for a period of time and even thoughts about our own mortality. This reminds us that:
- Completing estate planning is important.
- Reviewing your plan regularly is important.
During the pandemic, many families realized that they had not completed the final steps in their estate planning. We distilled the lessons they learned into a list of steps that should be completed this year to ensure that your plan is ready when needed:
- Notify those you have designated as the primary fiduciary in your documents, including patient advocates, agents under power of attorney and trustees. If they don’t have copies of your planning documents, provide copies or indicate where copies are available when needed.
- Provide copies of your documents to individuals or institutions who may be asked to rely on the documents. A patient advocate designation should be on file with your primary care doctor. Current powers of attorney and applicable trust documents should be on file with your financial institutions.
- Provide someone with the location of the access information for all of your digital accounts including financial and social accounts.
- Review titling of your assets and accounts. For example, if you intend your trust to own an asset, such as shares of your company, make sure the title for that asset has been changed to the trust.
- Verify your beneficiary designations. You may need to name new beneficiaries for life insurance policies and retirement or bank accounts, especially if births, deaths, marriages or divorces have occurred in your family recently.
- If you own cryptocurrency, make sure that someone knows where to locate your private keys and that the identified person has access to the user name and password for any device or account that holds your cryptocurrency.
- Take the time to organize your personal, legal and financial matters so there is a clear path for your family to follow if you should become incapacitated for a period of time or when your estate is administered.
If your plan was created several years ago, now is a good time to look at it again and note any planning changes and paperwork updates needed (perhaps from children reaching important age milestones, from tax law changes or from family births, deaths, marriages and divorces.)
Your Warner attorney can assist if you need to create or update an estate plan, or if you need help completing any of the steps above.