Estate Planning During the Coronavirus: Should You Get Your Estate in Order?

This is a challenging, scary time for everyone. Not since the 1918 flu pandemic or the polio epidemic in the 1940s and 50s, have we had to worry about getting sick by just leaving our homes. Given the level of fear throughout the country, and throughout the world, many people are beginning to consider how their affairs should be handled in the event that they, or loved ones, get sick.  

Indeed, our firm has been getting many, many questions about estate planning given the current health crisis. Yet even in less fearful times, it is always a good idea (i) to have a last will and testament in place, (ii) to know what might occur with your assets if you do not have a will, and (iii) to be mindful of the need for documents such as a power of attorney.  

Accordingly, in this blog, we are going to discuss some of the most frequently asked questions we have received in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. If, after reading this blog, you have more questions about your own estate planning, then we invite you to call the seasoned estate planning attorneys in the Palm Coast at Doane & Doane. You can contact us at 561-656-0200. Let us help you plan your future with proper estate planning.

What do I need to know when it comes to writing a will?

One of the most important things to remember is that a last will and testament is governed by State law. As such, each State has different rules with regard to how to properly execute a will. In some states, you need to have a notary and two witnesses, while in others you may only need one witness.

In fact, in Florida, at the beginning of 2020, the law changed allowing for the electronic/online execution of wills. While it may take a good amount of time for the legal industry to be comfortable with the new rules, many States will likely follow Florida’s lead in allowing the online execution of wills moving forward.

In sum, however, be sure you know what is required for the proper execution of a will in your State.

I am over 60, do I need an estate plan?

Yes. While having an estate plan in place is good at any age once you have graduated college, anyone who is 60 years old and over should seriously consider finalizing an estate plan.  

In fact, many CEOs and business owners are those who are in their 60s and up. So, an important part of estate planning is succession planning for your business. It is important to have a plan in place for the operation of your business in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away and must rely on others for the management and ownership of your business.    

I don’t have that many assets, do I really need an estate plan?

Again, yes. One of the biggest myths that people tend to believe is that estate planning is only for the very wealthy. But that is not so.  

You have spent a lifetime accumulating things that are important to you. Even if you do not own a home, you still have important things that matter deeply to you. You should make sure that those things go to the people of your choice.  

We have heard some people say “I never want my assets to go to my mean, stingy brother-in-law.” Yet, without an estate plan, indicating where your assets should go, it is possible that your State’s statutes that deal with intestacy (i.e., the applicable laws when someone dies without a will), maybe such that your assets could go to a family member whom you would not have chosen.  

Why is an estate plan important?

The two main benefits of an estate plan are (1) you have peace of mind that you have put your affairs in order, and (2) if something does happen to you, your family will easily know what to do, comfortable knowing that it is what you wanted.  

Try to think of an estate plan as writing your New Year’s resolutions down.  Once a year, you “take stock” of all things that matter to you, and make sure they are all in one place. Those things you need to take stock of include a will, or revocable trust, powers of attorney, living wills and other advanced directives. So, if something might happen to you, there is a seamless transition for your loved ones.

What if all my financial information and investments are online?

We don’t often think about it, but most of our financial information, bank accounts, credit card accounts, and investment or retirement accounts are online. Also, you may have a safe deposit box, to which only you have the key.  

So, you need to consider giving the appropriate family members essential information about the location of the important estate, business, and financial documents, names and contact information of accountants, attorneys and other professionals. Also, having a journal of all your monthly bills, insurance, taxes, etc. so your family members do not need to struggle to re-construct your financial affairs is a good idea.

Look to Doane & Doane to Guide You

Many Palm Beach estate planning clients seek the assistance of the attorneys of Doane & Doane, P.A. to help them make the right decisions for their family’s future.  

Moreover, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trust and estates.

In short, at Doane & Doane, we have the resources and experience to help you understand all aspects of the estate planning process. Doane & Doane’s estate planning attorneys in the Palm Coast, FL can be your South Florida legal guides. 

At Doane & Doane, we are prepared to give you sound, accurate advice. If that is something you need based on your circumstances, then we can reliably ensure the transaction will be handled properly. Call the estate planning attorneys in Palm Coast, FL at Doane & Doane today, at 561-656-0200.