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Estate Planning and Coronavirus

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty of the future and the risks associated with contracting the virus and developing COVID-19, estate planning has become more relevant and important for many throughout Alabama. What’s more, the deadly nature of the coronavirus has not only led more people to create estate plans, but also to do so online. At the law office of Smith & McGhee, P.C., our attorneys are still working full-time and can gladly assist you in estate planning in a remote capacity. Please call us today to ask your estate planning questions and receive assistance.

Elements of an Estate Plan

An estate plan is more than just a will or a trust, although these are important parts of an estate plan. Key elements of an estate plan that you should consider creating with an experienced attorney include:

Advance directive. An advance directive is a legal document that details one’s wishes regarding medical treatment that should be followed in the event that the individual is incapacitated and cannot express those wishes. Also known as a living will, an advance directive is more important than ever, as the coronavirus may–in the most severe of cases–result in a person being in intensive care and unable to communicate.

Powers of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another party, known as the agent, the right to make a decision about someone else’s affairs. There are two types of powers of attorney that are typically included within an estate plan: a financial power of attorney, which gives the agent the right to carry on business affairs or make financial decisions on another’s behalf, and healthcare powers of attorney, which provides the agent with the right to make healthcare-related decisions.

HIPAA waivers. While you may think that your family and your chosen agents (via your power of attorney or advance directive) will be able to access your medical records, sometimes, this isn’t the case–hospitals often like to see a signed HIPAA waiver before turning over information. It might be overkill, but signing a HIPAA waiver is one way to ensure that important people have access to your medical information if they need it.

Trust. One of the most common parts of an estate plan is a trust, which is used to hold assets that are distributed to the beneficiaries per the terms of the trust. There are multiple different types of trusts–talk to an attorney to learn more about which one is right for you and your situation.

Last will and testament. Finally, the last will and testament–often simply referred to as a will–is one of the most basic and crucial pieces of a solid estate plan. A will is used to make a decision about how your assets should be distributed; if you don’t have a will, assets will be distributed per Alabama’s intestacy laws. Your will can also be used to name an executor of your estate, express your wishes for how debts should be paid, make contributions to charities, and name a guardian for any minor children or pets that you have.

Documents You’ll Need to Create Your Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan will require a variety of documents. Documents that you might need include tax statements, financial records, land and property titles, details or retirement accounts, bank account documents, a list of beneficiaries, an inventory of assets, and more. An attorney can help you to organize the documents you need and safely obtain them while the safer-at-home order is in place.

Creating an Estate Plan Virtually During the Coronavirus Pandemic

At the law office of Smith & McGhee, P.C., we realize that the coronavirus pandemic has made many people think about the future and, unfortunately, their own mortality. We also understand that during this time, you may not be keen on meeting another person face-to-face, and may instead be more comfortable creating an estate plan in a remote or virtual capacity. While online options for estate plan creation do exist, we urge you to choose to work with an attorney who can provide information and advice that’s personalized to you. If you are uncomfortable traveling to our office, we are happy to assist you over the phone, through email, and online.

Call Smith & McGhee, P.C. Today

Creating an estate plan is always a smart idea. If you don’t already have an estate plan in place or need to amend your estate plan, our law firm can help. To learn more about our estate planning services and how we can assist you, please call us directly at (334) 702-1744 today or send us a message using the intake form on our website. We are happy to answer any questions you have about the process before you hire us.