Click to play an audio version of this article
As published in Long Island Press, on longislandpress.com and danspapers.com.
Jill’s husband Rob fell critically ill with Covid and was on a ventilator. They did not have wills, and by the time they sought to have a will drafted for Rob, he passed away before it was signed. The laws of intestacy controlled the distribution of Rob’s estate, so Jill received $50,000 and one-half of the assets and their children, ages 15 and 13, received the other one-half. Certainly not what Jill and Rob intended or wanted.
Covid has taught us that the unexpected and unthinkable can happen to any of us at any time. This wake-up call has resulted in younger families prioritizing their personal affairs to be sure they are in order. Protecting yourself, the ones you love, and your assets starts with estate planning.
Last Will and Testament: The most essential document in your estate plan is a Last Will & Testament. This is a legally binding declaration of how you wish to have your assets and property distributed upon your death. Young families typically execute Wills in order to name guardians of their minor children.
It is also important to leave assets in trust for minors until an age you specify (i.e. 18, 25, 30). If you have a child with special needs, it is critical that you direct your child’s inheritance into a Special Needs Trust so that your child will not lose their government benefits (Medicaid, SSI) upon receiving the inheritance.
Advance Directives: These legal documents, namely, a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Living Will, allow you to plan ahead in the event of incapacity. These important documents enable you to keep control of key financial and health care decisions by making arrangements in advance and appointing trusted agents to assist you in the future.
Note that the Power of Attorney Law just changed on June 13. As of that date, wholesale changes to this legal document were made so be sure you sign the new Power of Attorney document.
Virtual Access/Document Vault: Cona Elder Law offers a virtual document vault so you can securely store your important estate planning documents for on-line access anywhere at any time. You and whomever you authorize will be able to access your important legal documents wherever and whenever they are needed.
We’ve had the Covid wake-up call. Now is the time to take action to protect yourself, your assets and your loved ones. Be sure to seek the services of the experienced attorneys at Cona Elder Law to receive your customized trust, estate and elder law plan.