By Mark A. Mulchek, Attorney
Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, our office has received an increased number of calls regarding estate planning. Most of us have been spending the extra time at home doing repairs, tutoring, organizing, planning meals, and trying to get our affairs in order. Now is also an ideal time to update or develop your estate plan, especially when most of the work can be done from home.
Regardless of your situation, estate planning is for everyone. If you become incapacitated during your lifetime, you want to avoid having a court make the decision of who to appoint to exercise some or all your legal rights. Having a proper estate plan can also ensure your estate will pass as intended and minimize the hassles and stress your family will face after your passing.
The goals of estate planning, in general, are as follows:
- Minimize the total tax liability of the estate
- Ensure proper management and control of assets during life and after death
- Minimize the cost of estate administration and the complexity of the estate settlement
- Minimize the risk of contests during the estate element
- Maximize family privacy
The fundamental documents of every estate plan typically include a Revocable Living Trust, Will, Financial Power of Attorney, and Health Care Power of Attorney. It’s important that your advance directives, such as your health care proxy, living will, and power of attorney express your wishes and authorize your agents to make medical and financial decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.
Updating Your Current Estate Plan
Now is also an ideal time to review and update your current estate plan. Specifically, you should answer the following questions:
- Are there any major life changes since you last executed your estate planning documents?
- Are the named executors in your will and trustees in your trusts still suitable and able to serve?
- Are the beneficiary designations for your life insurance policies and retirement accounts updated?
As the anxiety many people feel during a public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic continues, one way to ease some stress is to make sure your affairs are in order should you become incapacitated or pass away. It is best to have honest conversations with your family and loved ones about your estate plan. During these uncertain and scary times, if you plan accordingly, you can make sure your wishes are carried out.
Mark Mulchek is an attorney at Carmody MacDonald. Mark advises clients regarding estate and tax planning, estate and trust administration, creditor protection, wealth preservation and business succession planning. He works with clients and their other professional advisors to develop effective and efficient estate plans that seek to minimize income, estate, gifts and generation-skipping transfer taxes. Email Mark at [email protected] or call 314.854.8606.
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