It’s fair to say that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. While concerns about our health, employment, and finances abound, we are also facing many questions about what the future holds. As more Americans are asked to “shelter in place” to avoid spreading the virus, we have more time to think about our goals, anxieties, and our own mortality. As a result, estate planning attorneys are reporting that more individuals are reaching out to them about creating an estate plan. Now is an excellent time to think about your legacy, so here are some steps you can take to ensure that the future, no matter what it may hold, can remain bright for you and your loved ones.
Estate Planning From Home
Instead of meeting with an estate planning attorney in person, you can do most of your estate planning work from the comfort and safety of your own home. Many attorneys have temporarily stopped providing in-person consultations, instead making themselves available to clients via phone, email, and video conferencing. You can take some much-needed time to think through the details you want to include in your estate plan, and the documents are easy to draft, revise, and send to your attorney. It’s likely that you’re already in the headspace to think about these major end-of-life decisions and how you’d like to shape your legacy, so take advantage of this time to put your thoughts into writing.
Creative Alternatives to Signing Documents at a Law Firm
Rather than signing these important estate planning documents in person, there are several ways to observe social distancing guidelines and complete the legal process. Some estate planning law firms are offering “drive-through” signing services, where you can sign legal documents without having to leave your car. There are more efforts to make e-signatures and online notarization services more accessible during this global health crisis, so ask your attorney about these options. In some cases, you may be able to sign these estate planning documents at home, asking neighbors to serve as witnesses (who stand at least six feet from you, of course). As the pandemic continues to unfurl, more options will likely become available to make the remote estate planning process easier and more streamlined for attorneys and their clients.
Planning For the Future
Even if you are not prepared to create a comprehensive estate plan right now, it’s a good idea to cover the basics. At a minimum, you should work with an attorney to establish a will, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and beneficiary designations. If possible, you can also discuss the benefits of establishing a revocable trust. Given the volatility of the market right now, you may wish to consider establishing a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) or a Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) that can minimize taxes when your assets are eventually transferred to your beneficiaries. Reach out to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to discuss your specific estate planning goals.
This uncertain time is a great motivator to make sure you have a solid estate plan in place to protect your future. Schedule a free consultation with the dedicated and friendly estate planning attorneys at Bevill & Bevill, LLC today by calling (205) 512-9550.