Recent events have many people wondering whether their estate plan is sufficient or thinking about an estate plan if they don’t have one. One thing is certain. Today’s events show that estate planning isn’t something that you should put off until tomorrow. Everyone over the age of eighteen needs certain basic documents, such as financial and healthcare powers of attorney to authorize others to make decisions for them in the event that they become incapacitated.
Even through the current quarantine, attorneys and law firms are considered essential businesses so that we can be available to help. Most of the estate planning process can be handed remotely via video or phone conference and, during this health emergency, both. While we hope that all of our clients and friends stay safe and avoid this virus, if you do find yourself needing intensive care, the right documents can help you ensure that your chosen friends or family can advocate for your care and that your wishes will be honored.
A common misconception is that estate planning is a time consuming, complicated process. The right guide can take the panic out of the process. The job of an estate planning attorney is to understand your family and your assets and put together the right plan for you. In its most simplistic form, a plan needs three elements:
Who makes financial and/or healthcare decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself?
Who handles payment of your final expenses and the management of your estate?
How do you want your estate divided?
Although you may see debates about wills versus trusts and hear complicated terms like irrevocable trust or advance directives thrown around, an estate planning attorney can cut through the noise to the documents you need for your particular situation.
What about do-it-yourself online planning? In many respects, estate planning is like assembling a car. While you can follow instructions and do the basic assembly, the best way to be certain every part is in place and not worry about a breakdown is to have the help of an expert. In the case of your healthcare directives, if your chosen advisor should have any difficulties or questions, you have the security of knowing that they have a knowledgeable professional to turn to for advice and answers.
Contact our estate planning and elder law team with your questions at 574.232.3538. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all our attorneys are available to assist you via phone and virtual meetings. Print PDF (2 pages)
Author: Jennifer L. VanderVeen is a certified elder law attorney (CELA) at Tuesley Hall Konopa, LLP where she counsels clients on long term care planning, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits applications, guardianships, special needs trusts, and complex estate planning issues. Jennifer frequently speaks to community groups on caregiver responsibilities and caregiver burnout.
You can contact Jennifer by calling 574.232.3538 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.