By Stephanie Kalogredis and Stacey McConnell
Planning for your incapacity and death is never a pleasant topic. But for many, the current crisis reminds us that we never know when we will need our estate planning documents and highlights the importance of having our estate plan in place.
While having a will is very important, it is equally important to have health care directives (living wills) and financial powers of attorneys that allow you to determine who will be responsible to effectuate your wishes. Here are some things to think about.
Are your business documents in order?
- Check your organizational documents to determine how decisions will be made in the event of your short and long term incapacity. Change the organizational documents if necessary.
- Can your agent under a power of attorney vote your interest or make decisions for the business? If so, do you have a power of attorney (general or limited) that authorizes your agent to manage your business affairs during your incapacity?
- If you are the only one that signs business checks, is there an alternate signer on the account? Should there be? In your absence who could authorize such actions?
If you have already done your estate planning, review your documents.
- Does your will and trust reflect your current wishes? Have there been any changes in your family, assets or charitable intent that warrant changes to your documents?
- Are the people you named as executors, trustees, agents (power of attorney) or surrogates (health care directive) and their alternates, suitable, able and willing to serve?
- Are the beneficiary designations on your retirement plans and life insurance up to date?
- Do you and your family have copies of your documents readily accessible?
- Do you know where are your original documents are located? If they are with your lawyer, does your family know who to contact?
- Review your health care directive (advanced directive/ health care power of attorney) in light of what you know about Covid-19.
- Talk to the surrogate you named and alternates about your views so, if necessary, they can make decisions that reflect your wishes.
- Does your doctor and surrogate have a copy of your health care directive?
- Do your adult children have health care directives and financial powers of attorney? At a minimum, do you have a HIPAA release so you can discuss your child’s health care needs with his or her doctors?
If you have not done your estate planning, it is not too late to get started.
- Most estate planning can be done at home. We are fortunate to live in an age where information can be shared via email and the internet. A face to face meeting can be held via video conferencing and draft documents can be prepared and emailed to you for review.
- Not all documents must be signed in front of a notary.
- And for documents that do require notarization to be effective, an Order was just issued allowing remote notarization of some documents in Pennsylvania during the Covid-19 emergency. While the Order imposes many administrative hurdles, if there is a crucial estate planning document that must be notarized, we can work through the obstacles with our clients to get their document signed and notarized.
Now, with time at home, this may be the ideal opportunity to review your business and estate planning documents, make changes and check these essential tasks off your list.
Stephanie Pahides Kalogredis concentrates her practice in estate planning and estate & trust administration and wealth transfer and succession planning at Lamb McErlane PC. She assists her clients in finding personalized solutions to meet their estate planning goals through the use of wills, trusts, gifting and legal agreements. email@example.com. 610-701-4433.
Stacey Willits McConnell focuses her practice on estate planning, administration of trusts and estates, charitable giving, and sophisticated wealth preservation and transfer techniques. She chairs Lamb McErlane’s Estate Planning and Trusts Department and has been in private practice in the Philadelphia area for more than 30 years representing both individuals and institutions. firstname.lastname@example.org. 610-701-4431.