With the nation’s attention focused on the protests provoked by George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, it can be all-too-easy to forget that we are also weathering a pandemic and an economic downturn of terrifying proportions. On Thursday, June 11 stocks saw their worst decline since March’s historic lows. On the same day, the US labor department announced another 1.5 million people had filed for unemployment benefits. No doubt, the present is the greatest moment of uncertainty yet faced by the US in the twenty-first-century.
If in such times you’re feeling unmoored, don’t worry, you’re far from alone. Gaining a hand hold amidst such unrest is hard even for those at little risk of Covid-complications, economic crisis, or racial discrimination. For everyone else, security may well seem like a word lost to history. Nonetheless, old proverbs still apply: tomorrow, indeed, belongs to those who prepare for it today.
Instituting an estate plan is one of the ways to prepare for tomorrow. However grim the forecast, knowing your assets are protected provides peace of mind at a time when hardly anything matters more.
Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
Lawyers, of course, want people to use lawyers but insisting on the importance of estate planning is not a self-interested matter. I genuinely believe that amidst so much chaos, taking proactive steps to protect one’s life’s work brings mental health benefits but the reasons don’t stop there. An estate plan protects not only your finances, but your bodily autonomy, too. As the Covid-19 pandemic lumbers on, this is a matter that concerns everyone.
Essential Estate Planning Documents
A typical estate plan consists of three documents: A Will or Trust, a Health Care Directive, and a Power of Attorney. The first allows you to set forth your wishes, designate beneficiaries, and distribute your assets accordingly. The second and third capacitate a trusted loved one to intervene in medical and financial matters should you be unable to do so, yourself.
Imagine, for instance, that you contract Covid-19 and due to complications, must be put on a ventilator. In such a state, you may be unable to advocate for the sort of care you’d like to receive. An advance health care directive ensures that any decisions taken will be in accordance with your values and wishes.
Now, on top of this, imagine a child’s or grandchild’s business is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy—unlikely, sure, but far from unthinkable in the present circumstances. A loved one with power of attorney could in this situation revise or institute a testamentary trust protecting any assets the child or grandchild may inherit from creditors.
Personal Matters Require Personalized Planning
Rarely is real life as straight-forward as the situations just described. The sorts of complications these examples seek to warn against inevitably arrive with all sorts of individual concerns. An experienced estate planning attorney will not only ensure you understand all avenues for asset and well-being protection, but will assist in adapting these to your specific needs. However tricky, rest assured that a good lawyer will have seen similar situations cross their desk.
Knowing that your affairs are in order is not only a matter of personal peace of mind. Your family and loved ones, likewise, will rest easy knowing that you as prepared as possible to meet an uncertain future. After all, as Alan Lakein so famously states, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”