If you're worried about the possibility that you or a loved one could become ill or worse due to the novel coronavirus, you're not alone. The new spikes in cases across the country and fears of a second wave have sparked anxiety nationwide. While none of us can predict the future, getting your affairs in order now can provide peace of mind and a sense of control. Here are the basic steps our Fort Wayne based team recommends when starting the process of putting a basic estate plan in place:
Review Your Beneficiaries
If you have a life insurance policy, retirement savings plan, or other financial accounts, check to see who is listed as your beneficiary and update your beneficiary designation documents, if necessary. You may also want to select a contingent beneficiary if you haven't already. In most cases, this can be done online which is especially convenient during times like this. Remember that a beneficiary designation, TOD (transfer on death), and POD (payable on death) designation mean the same thing.
Update Your Will and Trust
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a basic estate plan that includes a will. If you have children who are young adults, encourage them to have a simple will drawn up. If you have minor children or assets including life insurance, you'll need a more comprehensive will and, in some cases, a trust. If you already have a will or trust, this is a good time to review your documents to ensure they still reflect an accurate snapshot of your life, and to review updates needed because of law changes.
Add an Advance Healthcare Directive and Durable Power of Attorney
If you become ill and confined to a hospital or otherwise incapacitated, an Advance Healthcare Directive will allow a person of your choosing to make decisions related to your healthcare. Be sure to discuss your wishes with this person and let them know that you will be giving them this responsibility so that they can be prepared. Consider a living will to further indicate your end of life wishes.
You'll also need to include a Durable Power of Attorney in your estate plan which gives someone you've selected the authority to manage your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. This can be the same person you've chosen in your Advance Healthcare Directive or you can choose another person close to you to take on this role. Both of these documents are essential for anyone over the age of 18, regardless of their financial situation, including young adults who are not married and do not have children. These documents can help eliminate any problems or delays if your adult child becomes ill. Children going off to college especially need these to avoid the roadblocks a parent may face in the event of a child's emergency.
Although it's perfectly normal to experience a sense of panic during a pandemic, being properly prepared for even the worst possibilities will hopefully give you some sense of comfort and security. If you have further questions about creating a basic estate plan, or you need help putting a plan in place, we invite you to contact our Fort Wayne team at 969-1177.