Coronavirus and Estate Planning

COVID-19 From the Perspective of a Boca Raton Estate Planning Lawyer

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Florida hard, especially in many of our South Florida communities.

Most of us remain vigilant in following CDC guidelines and are taking recommended steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We are heeding the government’s call to cover our mouths when in public, wash our hands repeatedly, and stay a safe six feet or more from other people. 

The normal rhythms of everyday life have been interrupted and matters we once considered mundane have taken on a greater sense of urgency. We are focused on making sure our food pantries are well stocked in case the virus wreaks havoc with the nation’s food supply chains. 

From the safety of our home PCs, we are shopping online for life’s newly hard-to-find necessities — like hand sanitizer, bleach-based cleaning products, paper towels and toilet paper — and products we never imagined we would need, like face masks and gloves.

Including Estate Matters in COVID-19 Safety Plan

We may think we are doing all we can to keep our families safe, but there is a hard-to-face aspect of the pandemic that every Florida resident who owns property or has dependents to protect must face, and that is the fact that projections show thousands more Floridians will die from COVID-19 before we reach the peak. 

The unfortunate truth is that older citizens and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to this insipid virus. Even younger and seemingly healthy people have fallen victim to COVID-19. Speaking from the perspective of a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer, if there was ever a time to make sure that healthcare directives and estate planning documents are up to date, it is now. 

If you have not addressed or reviewed your estate plan in the last year or two, please take a moment to consider whether it is time to speak to a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer about:

Many of these documents can be created while talking to your Ellis Law Group attorney via phone or video conference and  executed while sheltering in place at home. 

Appointing a Florida Health Care Surrogate

Every adult should appoint a person to act as their health care surrogate or proxy in the event they become unable to make their own medical decisions. Your health care surrogate should be someone you trust to choose your providers and caregivers and who would be comfortable making decisions regarding what procedures you should undergo, such as surgery or being put on life support. Your health care surrogate will also be the person who will apply for insurance or public assistance benefits on your behalf, should this become necessary. Most people designate a close family member to act as their surrogate. 

When you designate a health care surrogate, you spare your loved ones the pain and confusion of not knowing what to do or who to turn to if difficult decisions have to be made on your behalf. You also avoid the potential for conflict amongst your loved ones.

Creating or Reviewing Your Powers of Attorney

When you give someone power of attorney, you delegate authority to that person to act on your behalf. You can specify that the designated individual can make business and other financial decisions in your place. You can also create a power of attorney for minors that allows someone to make decisions for you about your children.

If something happens to you and you have not established powers of attorney, you could end up in a situation where your children, family members and business partners are controlled by a stranger appointed by the court. 

Drafting or Updating Your Florida Will 

If you pass away without creating a will in Florida, your property will be distributed according to Florida’s intestate succession laws, whether this is how you wanted to dispense with your property or not. A will makes everything easier for your grieving loved ones by providing clear answers to many important questions surrounding your estate, such as:

  • Who will act as personal representative?
  • Who will get what property?
  • Who will serve as guardians of your minor children?

If you have not created a will or if you haven’t reviewed your will since a major life event, now is the time to contact a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer

Establishing or Reviewing Your Florida Living Trusts

Along with a will, many Florida residents establish trusts to help protect the well-being of their children and loved ones, to make sure that designated charities are part of their giving plan, and to avoid costly and time-consuming probate.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many people are looking to a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer to help them create Florida revocable living trusts, which allow them to manage their assets as usual as long as they are healthy; but should they become incapacitated, a designated successor will be there to handle all their financial concerns. 

Updating Your Beneficiary Designations

When you talk to a Boca Raton estate planning lawyer, they will ask you about whether you have recently updated your beneficiary designations on your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance. You may want to designate your Florida revocable living trust as your beneficiary or you may designate loved ones or business associates. The important point here is to take a moment to make sure your designations comport with your current wishes.

Contact a Boca Raton Estate Planning Lawyer for Help During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The current crisis is not easy on any of us. Nobody wants to think that the worst could happen, especially to our family members who are older or who live with preexisting conditions. The fact is, though, that this crisis will not end quickly, and many lives will be lost. Having a sound estate plan in place protects your loved ones in the event that their worst fears are realized.

If you have any questions about how to protect your assets during and after this challenging time, please contact the Boca Raton estate planning attorneys at Ellis Law Group. We welcome the opportunity to serve you and your family.

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