Too often, we find that adults wait until their twilight years to think about estate planning, which is all fine and good if you're fortunate enough to live a long life. However, if there's one thing that Covid-19 has shown us, sometimes the unthinkable happens. As such, this pandemic has shown us just how vitally important planning is for individuals, couples, and families. In fact, today we'll discuss a few lessons learned from Covid-19 about estate planning so far.
1. It's Never Too Early to Start Estate Planning (but it could be too late)
One of the first lessons learned from Covid-19 is that it's never too early to start estate planning. In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, studies suggested that those most affected by the virus were elderly or had pre-existing conditions. While that logic still holds some truth, we've found over the past year that Covid-19 really doesn't discriminate. We've watched healthy middle-aged friends have to be hospitalized for weeks due to this virus. At 45 years old, you hardly think you're about to kick the bucket. However, when you're spouse is faced with whether or not to disconnect life support machines, it is way too late to think about the creation of a Last Will and Testament or estate planning.
As such, EVERYONE, young or old, healthy or frail, needs to create an estate plan now! In particular, anyone with an underlying medical condition, healthcare workers, and first responders should have a Last Will and Testament and all other components of a basic estate plan in place ASAP.
2. You're definitely not too old for estate planning
On a similar note, we'd be remiss if we didn't remind seniors to start the estate planning process if they haven't already done so. Another lesson learned from Covid-19 this year is that senior citizens are our most vulnerable population. As such, seniors who become ill (with the coronavirus or otherwise) are much more likely to experience complications or require hospitalization.
Therefore, if you're a senior, schedule an appointment with a trust and estate attorney to start drafting a plan or revise previous versions of your estate plan. While your future may look different now than it did 10, 20, or even a few years ago, it's still worth planning for.
3. Estate Planning isn't just for the Wealthy
A common misconception is that you must be "rich" to have an estate plan. That couldn't be further from the truth and another lesson learned from Covid-19 In fact, any capable adult can create an estate plan. If anything, this pandemic has created a new sense of urgency to settle your affairs and take care of important matters like the creation of a Last Will and Testament, estate plan, and more while you still can. While your individual wealth may be cause for a more complex estate plan, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to make their last wishes, decide how they want to die in the event that life-sustaining medical treatment is required, or determine how they want their property to be distributed.
4. Our Crisis Management Plan Needs Work
A big lesson learned from Covid-19 is that our crisis management plans need a lot of work. As estate attorneys, we thought we knew a thing or two about worst-case scenario planning, but even we were a bit taken aback by this pandemic. No one wants to think about the reality of the "worst" happening, but now is the time to do just that. What would happen if both you and your spouse got sick with Covid-19 and had to be hospitalized for an extended amount of time. What would happen if you die? Who will raise your kids? While we all truly hope that Covid-19 was the worst-case scenario, no one really knows. Planning ahead won't cause bad things to happen. Therefore, we should be prepared in the event that something even worse was to happen.
If you are interested in starting the estate planning process, be sure to contact one of our estate lawyers in Raleigh NC, at Eldreth Law Firm PC. We are estate planning lawyers that can aid in helping you and your family makes the right choices for your loved ones.