This year, we have experienced the unexpected.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has ripped through the fabric of our nation, wreaking havoc on our lifestyle. Even with a vaccine just being released as we write this blog, there will still be a time of transition and readjustment. ***
This transitional period is the perfect time for you to re-examine your estate. In our busy lives today, it is easy to prioritize other items and let estate planning slip to the bottom of the list of things to do. The pandemic has provided a time-sensitive reason to prioritize estate planning back to the top of the to-do list. There is a lot outside of our control these days. One thing you can control is making sure that your loved ones are provided for with estate planning.
Here are some tips on estate planning as we enter 2021:
- Life and Disability Insurance: If you have insurance, be sure to update your beneficiaries. If you don’t have life insurance or disability insurance, then buy some this year. Your employer may provide it. If not, research local insurance agents and brokers to see the best policy for you. This is a crucial decision because when you die, you are leaving funds for your spouse and loved ones to pay funeral expenses and other bills.
- Pet Care: Have someone designated to walk and feed your dog or cat. Provide a key and vet name.
- Funeral and burial arrangements: Make your specific funeral service wishes known, including who you want the eulogy, speakers, music, pallbearers, etc. Also, have your burial plot chosen and purchased.
- Retirement accounts: Your beneficiaries should be updated so your savings and investments go to the right person.
- Bank accounts and investments: Your bank should provide a “Transfer on Death” beneficiary of your accounts. Following your death, whoever you have chosen will automatically receive the account. It is good for smaller accounts and assets.
- Digital assets: Someone should be designated to handle your email accounts and any other online accounts such as social media and websites. Have your Financial Power of Attorney keep all your user names and passwords in a file. Keep them updated when you have changed any of the passwords or closed any account.
- Have a “Family Convo”: Get together with all of your immediate family and discuss what happens if you get sick or die. Make arrangements for your spouse and children. Give them the names of your power of attorney and any documents they may need for future arrangements.
- Health Care Directive: Make your final health care plans known to your loved ones. If you want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) write it down. That and any end-of-life care needs should be expressed clearly.
- Last Will and Testament: This may be last on the list but it should be first on yours. Create a will that spells out specifically any and all property and who should get it.
One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is security. You reduce intra-family fighting, lawyer expenses, and hard feelings by covering all estate issues before you die. Your family will be grateful to you forever.
At A.K. Burton, PC, our experienced estate planning advisors can help you through every step of the way. Call us at (301) 365-1974 for a consultation. Our office is open! We serve Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County. MD area.
*** For more information on how COVID-19 has affected Americans’ finances, see this Forbes magazine article.