Covid-19; Why you should stock up on an estate plan too

Who would have thought this is the world we’d be living in? Trying to avoid all human interaction, quarantined at home, constantly nervous about running out of food or other necessities, and attempting to get everything delivered… Actually, that last part is very much the world we’ve been living in. It seems that everything is delivered these days; perhaps that is one small solace. But I certainly never thought a toilet-paper estimator would be useful. 

I had my criticisms and fears about the world, I just never expected to add “pandemic” to the list. I always hoped more employers would offer remote work opportunities; I just never expected it to happen so quickly and ubiquitously. I never thought I’d see nearly everyone I know fighting the same fight, working from couches, kitchen tables, basements, and bedrooms. Brave nurses and doctors, delivery-workers, and grocery clerks, working to protect us. All this, while home-schooling children, keeping infants alive and happy, and caring for elderly relatives from afar. 

Today, we find ourselves living in fear; fear that you or someone you love will contract a deadly virus – and that it might be you who unknowingly passed the virus to them; fear that this virus may manifest itself as a mild cold, or perhaps a fever, or shortness of breath, or hospitalization or worse; or maybe that it won’t manifest itself at all. We catch ourselves thinking more than ever about worst-case scenarios, what we can do to protect our loved ones, and our own mortality.

One of the biggest challenges is our complete lack of control. We don’t know how long this will last, who will be affected, or what our world will look like when we come up for air. 

As a legacy planning attorney, I have the responsibility of thinking about illness, death, and countless emergencies, accidents, and other contingencies all the time. Starting my law practice has been in the works for months, I didn’t expect it to happen during a pandemic. Now I find myself thinking even more about what I can do to help others gain control during this unprecedented time of fear. In some small way, can I ease any of this burden?

What can you do?

Many people have asked me what you can do to plan during a pandemic. As we’ve seen the last few weeks, the entire world can change instantly. We feel unprepared for how drastically things have come to a halt. Yet amid such uncertainty, we’ve learned that an estate plan, including a will and other documents, can be critical. While this has always been the case, the pandemic has illuminated the need for a plan. If we confront our fears, we can truly enable our loved ones to honor our wishes and our legacy.

In the event that you are incapacitated, whether temporarily or long-term, it is important to consider who you might want to act on your behalf. Who would you want filling your shoes and how will those individuals undertake their new role? I highly recommend thinking about certain provisions that are necessities regardless of your wealth or health:

  • Advance Directives for End-of-Life Care, which inform your family about your preferences for medical treatment;
  • Medical and Financial Durable Powers of Attorney to ensure that someone you trust can legally make time-sensitive decisions and manage affairs on your behalf; and
  • Guardianship Designations for those with minor or disabled children.

These are just a few of the things that you might discuss if you choose to sit down with an estate planning attorney. Most importantly, you do not have to do it all at once. I know how daunting the process can be. I want to help my clients achieve peace of mind during this tumultuous time, and at each person’s unique pace. 

Moving Forward…

Typically, I advocate for holistic, comprehensive estate planning, but these are not typical times. While this remains important, if a full-service estate plan is not feasible for you at this time, I can help. I’m providing Essential Document Services and other unbundled options to allow for greater flexibility in meeting your immediate needs quickly. I’m offering discounted rates and my initial consultation is always free. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other.

Last but certainly not least, I’m hosting all meetings virtually. While one of my favorite aspects of this work is meeting my clients and getting to know you personally, I believe virtual conversations can be equally effective. Thankfully, there is so much technology at our fingertips to make this possible and keep us connected. Under usual circumstances, executing an estate plan also requires in-person witnessing and/or notarizing under Colorado law. On a temporary basis in response to Covid-19, many states including Colorado are permitting this to be done virtually using video conferencing.

Talking to a lawyer can be overwhelming, let alone when it involves a deep-dive into your finances, life goals, family dynamics, and mortality. Nobody wants to think about death and dying; it’s why this is such a terrifying time. Yet I’ve seen first-hand how a plan can provide immense peace of mind. It’s my goal, now and always, to make this work as pain free as possible.