Estate Planning and the Coronavirus
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has upended the normal functions of the country, leaving millions of people with deep uncertainties concerning their finances and their health. The dangers posed by the pandemic serve as an important reminder to have your legal ducks in a row in terms of your estate, should anything unfortunate happen to you or a loved one. Below we discuss some of the steps you can and should take, even during mandatory lockdown and quarantine, to ensure that you and your family are protected in these uncertain times.
Reach out to a qualified and dedicated Portland and Vancouver estate planning lawyer for help planning your estate in Oregon or Washington State.
Estate Planning Essentials: Will, Power of Attorney
While we strongly advise putting together a comprehensive estate plan, there are a few essentials that you can draft and implement with relative ease. At a minimum, we recommend establishing a living trust and/or last will and testament. These documents will ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes in case you pass away unexpectedly. A comprehensive will or trust will ensure that your family is not stuck in a lengthy probate battle, creating legal complications on top of the emotional burden already in play.
We also strongly recommend establishing a durable power of attorney (POA) for financial and medical decisions. A POA grants someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so on your own due to injury or illness. You can have the same person be responsible for both financial and healthcare decisions, or appoint different POAs for each. If you fall ill with the coronavirus or some other ailment and are unable to speak on your own behalf, it is essential to know that important decisions about your wellbeing and your finances will be made by someone you trust.
You can also issue a medical directive giving guidance as to what treatments are and are not permissible, and your wishes in general should you fall ill. A medical directive can supplement your healthcare POA, instructing the attorney-in-fact as to your wishes and enabling them to execute those desires faithfully.
Remote Meetings with Your Estate Planning Team
Your accountants, investment managers, and attorneys are likely still on the clock, even during mandatory lockdowns. Schedule a meeting over the telephone or via videoconference to discuss your estate plan and important steps you can take. Most estate planning efforts can be conducted remotely.
Remote Online Notarization
Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other critical legal documents require proper notarization. While the coronavirus pandemic continues, it may not be advisable or even possible to meet a notary public in person or have them come to your home. Thankfully, state governments recently started permitting remote online notarization, removing the need to have a notary public in person in order to make sure important documents are properly executed.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a remote online notarization bill in April of 2019. The bill was set to go into effect this October, but on March 25, 2020, Governor Inslee issued an emergency proclamation permitting remote notarization effective immediately.
Oregon, unfortunately, does not yet permit remote online notarization, although legislation has been proposed to allow it.
Call Vancouver Attorney John Lutgens for Help With Estate Planning in Oregon or Washington State
For professional, efficient, and detail-oriented legal help planning for your financial future in Portland, Vancouver, or elsewhere throughout Oregon and Washington, contact Vancouver estate planning lawyer John Lutgens for a free consultation at 360-693-2119.