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Avoid Panic with an Estate Plan

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

The Kiplinger.com article “Estate Planning During the Pandemic” includes a scenario many of us want to avoid: a widow approached a financial planner with screenshots of texts her husband had sent from the hospital with information about investments and instructions. The husband passed away from COVID-related complications but one spouse not knowing enough to manage financial accounts is a common occurrence whether there is a pandemic or not. The financial planner says she worked with this client and later helped the woman create her own estate plan.

According to Kiplinger.com, these are the must-have documents to include in an estate plan:

  • Last will and testament
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Health care proxy
  • Digital assets inventory

A legal expert interviewed for the article offered this framework for an estate plan: think of it the way you do New Year’s resolutions. If you set resolutions each year, remember that you need to review your estate plan on a yearly basis. (And if you don’t set resolutions, you can still use the new year as a time for estate planning.) When the new year begins you can review changes in your life and finances from the past year to see what changes you need to make to your documents. If you find that nothing has changed, year and after year, the yearly review  is still a good habit to continue. Plus, since digital assets are now included in estate planning you may need to review online accounts and passwords to make sure everything is up-to-date even if nothing else changes.

As we wrote in “Estate Planning in the Time of Corona,” there are ways to get your estate planning done or have changes made if you need to  limit your contact with other people. These workarounds vary from state to state so do your research to find out what your state requires to ensure that your estate planning documents are legally executed.