Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, estate planning attorneys throughout the country have seen a significant increase in requests for wills and other estate planning documents. During uncertain times, it is natural for people to think about whether they have their affairs in order or to update existing estate plans.
Even though the pandemic has upended our lives, for many of us it has provided unexpected time at home for tackling long-overdue projects, including getting our personal affairs in order. If you have been putting off working on your estate plan, now is a good time to address it while these issues are foremost in your mind.
While estate planning can be complex, there are three important estate planning documents everyone should have:
1. Last Will and Testament
A will is a legally enforceable declaration of how a person wants their property and assets distributed after death. Even if your assets are not significant, a will helps loved ones carry out your wishes and can help avoid disagreements. In the will, an executor is named who will handle paying outstanding debts and taxes on your estate and be responsible for distributing your assets in accordance with your wishes. In a will, you may also name a guardian for any minor children or dependents.
2. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document that stays in effect if you become incapacitated and are unable to handle your personal affairs on your own. Whether you are involved in an accident or simply become unable to handle your financial affairs due to aging or illness, having a durable power of attorney lets you choose someone to act on your behalf. The person you name will be legally permitted to handle matters such as paying your bills and managing your investments. Without this document, your loved ones may have to go to court to be given the authority to handle your affairs.
3. Advanced Healthcare Directive
Every adult should have an advanced healthcare directive. A healthcare directive operates in a manner that is similar to a durable power of attorney, but involves decisions concerning your healthcare treatment rather than the management of your assets. It allows you to name a person to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your wishes, and also allows you to provide directions to that person by setting forth your preferences concerning the type of treatment you do or do not want under various circumstances, up to and including the use of life-sustaining medical interventions if you are in a terminal condition.
If you are ready to work on your estate plan or update an existing one, let us know or you can contact Kanner Baker directly at 678-273-3982 or by visiting kannerbaker.com.