Estate Planning During this Pandemic


Now is the perfect time for one to get one’s affairs in order, especially since most of us have a great deal of free time.  Getting organized and having a plan will serve to alleviate anxiety about the future.  First, one should compose a detailed list of important contacts–i.e., your accountant, financial advisor (s), your attorney, with phone numbers and contact information.  If you are collecting a pension from a former employer, that should be noted as well, so that family can easily collect any disability or death benefits which might be due.

Perhaps more importantly, one should compose a detailed list of one’s assets, with account numbers, along with the name of the institution(s) where these assets are held and useful telephone numbers.  This will make it easier for family members to manage the assets if you become disabled, and also to collect them in the event of death.  Life insurance information is especially important, since unless your beneficiaries know the policies exist, know the company and policy number,  the policy benefits may be overlooked.  It would be so unfortunate if family members have to go through the anxiety of searching your home and belongings to find the assets.  If not found, they will eventually go to the State of New York. 

This is also a good time to make sure your will, trust (if you have one), health care proxy/living will and power of attorney, the “essential” estate planning documents, are properly prepared and up-to-date, with no changes needing to be made.  It is imperative, also, that your family know where the original will or trust is kept,  and where they can locate copies of the other documents. If you do not know where your original documents are located, now is the time to address the issue. If an original will can not be located, it is presumed the will was revoked!

While social distancing rules make is so that you can not meet with an attorney in person, email, phone conferences, and video chats are a good option.  There is no reason why work can not be done in this matter.  In fact, the Governor has signed an executive order which temporarily permits virtual will signing, with virtual witnesses and notarization.  In short, there is no reason to postpone getting your affairs in order.  Doing so will keep you busy and should serve to alleviate some stress regarding the future.