Estate Planning During the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Updated: Mar 27
The Coronavirus and the resulting social distancing and self-quarantining it has caused have forced most New Yorker's to quickly reevaluate their health, child, and financial situations, which in turn has caused growing anxiety, fear, and concern.
During times such as these, it is natural for people to realize just how fragile life really is. In these unique and unprecedented times, as each day brings more quarantines and in some unfortunate circumstances more closures, the need for estate planning becomes increasingly real and necessary.
At a minimum every adult needs a Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy / Living Will.
The Last Will and Testament is a document that comes into effect at an individual's date of death and directs the disposition of an individual's assets as well as the guardianship of his/her minor children. In many cases, a trustee will also be appointed under one’s Will to manage the inheritance of a minor child. In the event an individual dies without a Last Will and Testament, New York State's laws of intestacy dictate who will receive a decedent's assets, which may be drastically different from what a decedent truly intended. Further, a judge will ultimately determine who retains custody of a decedent's minor children.
A Financial Power of Attorney is a document that applies during an individual's lifetime which authorizes an agent to stand in the individual's place with respect to financial matters in the event the individual is unable to act on his/her own accord. Such activities include filing taxes, banking, purchasing and selling real estate, and filing for governmental benefits.
A Health Care Proxy/ Living Will is a document that applies during an individual's lifetime which is used when an individual is unable to make medical decisions for himself/herself. Thus, it is imperative to individuals that their wishes are known to their appointed agent(s) in the event they cannot speak for themselves.
Other estate planning concerns that every individual should be aware of include checking beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance policies, possibly purchasing life insurance, and speaking with elderly family members about their own estate planning needs and goals.
During the Coronavirus, the attorneys at Underberg & Kessler LLP have the ability to “meet” with clients telephonically or by video conference via the internet. In this regard, video and/or telephonic conference calls are an excellent mechanisms for discussing an individual's current estate planning documents, drafting and reviewing an individual's updated estate planning documents, and finally for arranging in-person appointments to execute documents since the law in New York holds that an individual's estate planning document must be signed in person before a notary public and two witnesses.
The lawyers at Underberg & Kessler LLP are available to assist any and all individuals with their estate planning needs. Click here to contact us if you have any questions.
You can view more COVID-19-related posts in our COVID-19 Resource Area here.