“Hey, given this Covid thing, should I have a Will?”

Many current and potential estate planning clients who have contacted me in the last couple of months have done so by asking one simple question: “Hey, given this Covid thing, should I have a Will?”

My response is always yes, but my point here is that, global pandemic or not, it’s always a good time to have a Will.

Whether your estate consists mostly of farmland, business property, retirement accounts, or even your prized comic book collection, you should have a proper estate plan in place, so your wishes are properly carried out in a smooth, seamless and professional manner upon your death. You are in total control, but only if you take the initiative.

  • You decide who gets your comic books – your beneficiaries.
  • You decide who’s in charge – your Personal Representative or Trustee. That person oversees getting your comic books to your beneficiaries.
  • You decide who’s in charge of your kids, and who’s in charge of taking care of their inherited property until they reach a certain age. Do you want to make sure your comic books are still around for the next generation?
  • You decide who makes your medical care decisions, and who handles your business and finances, if you become incapacitated.

If you don’t have a proper estate plan in place, someone else gets to make all of these decisions for you.

If you haven’t waited for a global pandemic to occur and you already have an estate plan, ask yourself the following questions to determine if it’s time to update:

  • Does my current Will or Trust adequately provide how I want my assets distributed?
  • Are my assets titled properly and will this result in the correct distribution? Certain assets do not pass through your Will or Trust, such as assets owned in joint tenancy, or that have a specific, named beneficiary such as life insurance, annuities, and retirement accounts. Those assets pass automatically to the survivor or beneficiary upon death, not through the Will or Trust.
  • Is it time to start planning for the next generation to start running the family farm or closely held family business? And how the heck do I include those kids that aren’t currently involved?
  • Should I be utilizing a gifting program? What about giving a portion of my estate to charity?
  • Should I be operating my farm or business within the structure of an LLC or ‘S’ Corporation?
  • Have I appointed the right people to the following jobs:
    • Personal Representative?
    • Trustee?
    • Guardian and Conservator for my minor children?
    • Durable Power of Attorney?
    • Health Care Power of Attorney?

Those are just a few of the questions that you might be asking. If you would like to discuss any of these thought-provoking questions, or if you just want to call me up and tell me the latest lawyer joke you’ve heard, I’d be happy to talk to you.

I sincerely hope you are all safe and well.

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