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Estate Planning is Key During COVID-19 Pandemic

We are living in truly unprecedented times as we take on the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire communities are currently experiencing drastic measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm’s way. While the novel coronavirus has left many wondering what the future will bring, what hasn’t changed is people’s need for well-drafted estate planning. Most of us do not enjoy facing the inevitable, although having properly drafted estate planning in place can ease the mind of the “what-ifs” during these uncertain and turbulent times.

Comprehensive estate plans can eliminate the guess work and ensure that your loved ones are able to honor your wishes when you are no longer able to do so yourself.

Basic estate planning includes the creation of wills and trusts. A properly drafted will ensures that your estate will be distributed pursuant to your written wishes upon your passing. Without a will in place, your estate will be divided and distributed pursuant to the intestacy laws of your state. Further, among many other benefits, trusts can be used to reduce income taxes, remove assets from your estate for estate tax purposes, provide supplemental income to individuals with special needs, and avoid probate. Other measures should be considered as well, for example, financial and healthcare power of attorney documents will protect your interests during incapacity. Additionally, your attorney can assist you with obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance and effectuating proper Medicaid Planning so that your hard-earned dollars are not depleted by possible long-term care needs in the future.

Advanced Medical Directives and Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) Orders during the pandemic should be carefully considered and discussed with your attorney and attending physician in detail.

Advanced Medical Directives, which can include the addition of DNR orders, are useful in directing your health care power of attorney and attending physician as to how you would like to receive care when you cannot communicate those decisions on your own behalf. Such documents become necessary when an individual has a terminal condition or is in persistent vegetative state; does that individual want to receive artificial nutrition and hydration? Should the physician use life sustaining procedures, or should such procedures be withheld? Life sustaining procedures may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, surgery, ventilation, and, importantly, intubation. All things that may be necessary to keep a person alive while fighting the coronavirus. While your attorney can advise you regarding the legal implications of having these documents in place, you should also consult with your doctor what this means for your care if the time comes.

Leaving your house is not necessary to execute your estate planning during stay-at-home orders.

With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, states have become creative in issuing temporary rules and legislation allowing for modifications to execution requirements of certain legal documents. For example, on March 27, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued Executive Order D 2020 019 ordering the temporary suspension of the personal appearance requirement for notarization due to the presence of COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, the Colorado Secretary of State issued temporary rules, which have been codified at CCR 1505-11, allowing for remote notarization via audio-visual communication. For Coloradans, this means that law firms can use video-conferencing services such as GoToMeeting and Zoom to hold signing ceremonies to execute your legal documents. As such, you can now have a valid will, power of attorney, or trust executed from the comfort of your own home.

Contact Us Today

For more information, please contact Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. today. Our experienced attorneys are here to answer any questions you might have about your estate plan and the newly implemented remote notarization practices.

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