Posted by: Jason T. Johns
There has been an explosion in the numbers of Americans rushing to create their wills online. Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has created the scramble to set up wills and end-of-life-directives. However, online do it yourself (DIY) wills are often deemed invalid as they do not comply with all of the legal requirements of your state. While the prevalence of will and estate planning had been on the decline since 2017, this trend is quickly reversing itself with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
So, who needs a will? Ask yourself if you care who gets your property or money when you die? If you have minor children, do you care who will act as their legal guardian? The answer is: anyone married, anyone with children, or anyone with assets needs a properly executed will. Wills are governed by state law. Your will should reflect your wishes in the language and format required by the state in which you live for it to be valid.
The importance of an attorney guiding you through the process of creating a will cannot be overstated. Attorneys understand the nuances of how your wishes must be written so that they are carried out after your death. Once your will (or will and trust) is complete, it must be correctly signed and notarized. Mistakes made in the signing process can potentially invalidate your documents. Your attorney will guide you through the signing process.
Huck Bouma has been using video conferences and telephone conference with our clients to address social distancing protocols while still providing legal services to clients, including designing estate plans. Huck Bouma has also implemented protocols for execution of estate plans while maintaining social distancing.
Beyond the creation of a will, many Americans are increasingly concerned about their powers of attorneys, health care surrogates, and end of life directives. These “lifetime documents,” as they are active while you are alive, are as important as your will. Named executors, successors, beneficiaries, and agents under your power of attorneys should have several back-up representatives, particularly as the mortality rate of the coronavirus remains unknown.
According to research in a recent New York Times report, health care workers are more likely to contract COVID 19 than the average person. During this pandemic, many doctors and other medical professionals are rushing to have their wills drawn up. In addition to doctors, anyone on the front lines in the fight against COVID 19, from hospital custodians to nurses to EMS responders, should either make a will or review and possibly update their existing one. However, the truth is no matter what your profession or likelihood of contracting this virus, you should have a properly executed estate plan, especially during this time of considerable uncertainty.
There are few things you can act on during the COVID 19 pandemic that can bring you assurance and a sense of relief. The legal creation of your estate plan is an action you can take that protects you and your family. We can help. Contact us today to schedule a phone or video conference and we’ll get this importance process started for you.
Our firm is dedicated to helping our clients and their loved ones work through issues and implement sound legal planning to address them. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact our office at (630) 221-1755.