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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Your Estate Plan

Sat May 23, 2020 News

All of us at Gipson Hoffman & Pancione wish you, your families, and your clients are able to stay healthy and safe as we endure the effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This is a time when many of us are finding ways to best help our loved ones, and a thoughtful estate plan can be an important part of your family life. You may have questions about estate planning. Given the circumstances we are experiencing, below are some helpful factors to consider:

  1. Focus on your estate plan if you have not yet done so. This is a project that should not be delayed. It can raise hard issues, but do not let your desire for perfection be the enemy of the “good enough.” You can and should wrestle with the hard questions and perhaps improve your estate plan over time, but do so after you have designed and documented the basic plan.

    1. Many people prolong starting, or delay completing, their estate plans while trying to resolve some difficult decisions. As the existing pandemic reminds us, we do not know when we will need our estate plans. So, try to focus on addressing your plans today while keeping in mind that you can make changes in the future.
  2. Ensure your documents are up-to-date and reflect your wishes. At times like these, we are reminded of the most essential purpose of estate planning – to make sure that our plans, and the documents that carry out those plans, accurately reflect and accomplish our current wishes. As such, a review of your existing documents would be most appropriate. In particular, you should answer the following questions:

    1. Are the designated Trustees (in your Trusts) and Executors (in your Will), as well as all successors, suitable, able, and willing to serve in that capacity? Do the provisions of your Will and Trusts provide for your property to be distributed to the people and charities you wish in a manner that accomplishes your goals?
    2. Have there been any major life changes (e.g. changes in marital status, births, deaths, changes in residence, major purchases or sales of assets, or acquisitions and sales of property) since you last implemented or revisited your estate planning documents?
    3. Are the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies up to date?
    4. Do you know where your original Trusts and Will are located?
  3. Make sure your Advance Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney are up to date and you have copies available.

    1. Your Advance Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney convey your wishes and authorize your Agents to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Reviewing these documents will ensure they express your current wishes and name the persons you trust to address these matters on your behalf. Furthermore, a discussion of your medical wishes with your Agents should follow so that, if need be, they are prepared to make decisions that fulfill your wishes.

For any questions or concerns regarding the implementation of your estate plan or updating your plan already in place, please do not hesitate to call our office at 310-556-4660 or email us at the addresses below. We are here to support your needs.

Stephen R. Kirschenbaum
Trusts & Estates Attorney
[email protected]

Robert E. Gipson
Managing Partner
[email protected]