The Covid pandemic is causing families unimaginable suffering and grief, and it’s forcing many individuals to confront mortality, to consider in very real terms what will happen when their life is coming to an end. What happens to you at the end of your life is governed largely by a handful of documents.
A durable power of attorney permits someone else to manage financial matters while you’re living, empowering someone you name to pay bills, write checks, or sell and purchase assets on your behalf. A health care proxy and living will names someone to make medical decisions if you’re unable to express your wishes and contains instructions about end-of-life care. This is top-of-mind for a lot of people now, understandably.
A last will and testament provides the details take effect at your death for disposing of your property, and should be reviewed annually to make sure that the trustee and executor as well as guardians of minor children you appoint conform to your current wishes.
A revocable trust also provides for the disposition of your property after you die but avoids the probate court process. Because courts across the country were shut down for a time and are are dealing with a surge in filings and probate cases due to the pandemic, it’s more important to have a revocable trust to avoid probate court delays. To set up a revocable trust, you’ll need to retitle bank and brokerage accounts, real estate, and other assets, so it involves signing documents with a witness present and this has become more complicated during this time of social distancing, but remote signings can be done online.
It’s important to speak with family and friends, or whomever you’re appointing, about your wishes, so that they’re aware of your plans. You also want to be certain beneficiary designations on retirement plans and life insurance policies are up to date.
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