If you are one of the few Americans who has a comprehensive estate plan in place: well done! However, just because you have made the initial strides and time investment does not mean that you never need to look at it again. Everybody is aware of the horrific impact that the COVID-19 virus has had on the world, affecting everybody from an individual level all the way up to the global economy. In this time of pandemic, it is more important than ever that you make sure your estate plan is up-to-date.
How often should I be updating my estate plan?
In general, there is no hard and fast rule for this. However, if nothing out of the ordinary is happening and nothing much has changed regarding your financial life or your health, it is wise to take a glance at your current plan every three to four years. If there have been any major changes in tax law (such as California's recent passage of Prop 19 if you own property in the state) it is also a good time to revisit to see if it is advantageous for you to make any adjustments.
If you have not taken a hard look at your current estate plan since the beginning of the pandemic, it is definitely time to take a look and adjust. This is particularly important if you are at high risk for catching the disease.
What can I do to protect my wishes and health?
One of the most crucial elements of a comprehensive estate plan during this time is a medical directive. The term “medical directive” is an umbrella term for a dual-pronged approach to potential end-of-life care. The idea behind a medical directive is to ensure that medical professionals adhere to your wishes regarding medical care. One prong of a comprehensive medical directive is a living will. This is a document where you can outline care directives for yourself in the event that poor health incapacitates you and cannot make these decisions for yourself. The second prong is medical power of attorney, where you give somebody the right to advocate for your wishes on your behalf if you are not able to do so.
In the case of COVID-19, a living will may be invaluable if you must receive intubation to live and cannot advocate for yourself. A living will can provide your voice, and the person who holds your medical power of attorney can actively advocate.
Who gets to decide?
Another thing to take into consideration are your current heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. Has anybody gotten married or had children since the last time you updated your estate plan? Has anybody died, moved out of state (or country) or aged to the point of incapacity? Now is the time to sit down and address these life changes if pertinent. Are the persons you named for these positions still fit to hold them? Is there now somebody who may be a better choice for these positions?
Take some time out of your schedule and focus on your estate plan in light of the current pandemic. Contact us today to learn more about how AmeriEstate can help.