COVID-19 has us all thinking differently. Last month, we were going about our day-to-day lives focusing on our work, projects, community involvement, parties, gatherings, and vacation-planning, to name a few.
Now, the focus has completely shifted to our health, financial, and mental well-being. One question that comes to mind-if I or my family member gets sick, do we have a good estate plan in place to protect our family? Unfortunately, setting up an estate plan is one of those items that we tend to put off. It’s been on the yearly to-do list for years and years but we just haven’t gotten around to it. Well, now is the time to get around to it.
During this time, it is crucial to have an up-to-date Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will as well as a financial Power of Attorney. If you or a family member had to go to a hospital, most healthcare professionals will ask for these documents. Having a document that is up-to-date means several things. For starters, it is important that these documents comply with today’s laws. It is also very important-especially in today’s crisis-to have a solid back-up (or two or three) in place for each of these documents. For example, most spouses name each other to act under their power of attorney. But in the event that both you and your spouse are sick or injured, you may want to have a person or two that you trust as a back-up to handle anything you both need during that time. For those who do not have these important basic documents, in the event of sickness or injury, the alternative is a guardianship proceeding-a court process that often costs three to five times as much as the average cost for a simple estate plan.
For anyone who does not have these important documents in place, even during this time, our office can prepare these documents for you. Here in Ohio, legal services have been deemed an essential service. As many of you know, our firm has a dedicated task force that meets daily to address dealing with COVID-19. As such, we have best practices in place to ensure that we can meet your needs while being careful and cautious for our attorneys, staff, and clients. To that end, for those in the community requesting these documents, we begin with a simple phone call with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys. Then, our team prepares the planning documents and either sends such documents to the clients for signature or assists with a safe signing location (often at one of our five offices).
During this time, many are also thinking about a Will or a Trust. Both documents govern where your assets go after you pass away and who will be the person you trust to distribute those assets. If you have minor children, you name guardians for those children in your Will. A Will must go through the probate process whereas a Trust can avoid probate. A Trust can also provide various protections for you and your loved ones. There are a variety of Trusts from very simple to more complex to ensure each individual’s goals can be met.
The estate planning attorneys here at Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston, Ltd. stand ready to answer your questions and prepare your needed estate planning documents. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our offices via phone or email.