Information abounds about prevention and developing treatments for the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading around the world. By the minute, health experts and infectious disease specialists are issuing tips for slowing the spread of the illness and advice for seeking treatment if symptoms surface. Similarly, this client alert is intended to remind you, our valued client or friend, of steps you can take now to make sure your legal affairs are in order during these uncertain times.
- Locate and review your estate plan documents. This simple first step can go a long way toward relieving anxiety now and in the event of a crisis.
- Communicate. Remind your patient advocate, attorney-in-fact (power of attorney), and your trustee (if any) of the important roles they play in your plan. This simple reminder may help them respond more quickly in the event their service is needed.
- Update your patient file. Confirm that your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/Patient Advocate Designation is on file with your primary care physician and in the hands of your patient advocate. To reduce the chance of exposure to the virus and save space in waiting rooms, consider sending this information electronically. If you don’t have an electronic copy, we may be able to provide one.
- Look for risks. If you have an estate plan, take comfort in knowing that you have invested in a plan for situations like this. Chances are that you are in good shape, but if you want to look further, review our Annual Estate Plan Health Checklist to spot risks that may be lurking in your plan.
- Consider opportunities. It’s always helpful to look for a silver lining. One benefit of being prepared for events like a pandemic is that you may be in a position to make adjustments on the financial side of your life. Dips in the stock market or overall economy can be valuable opportunities to make gifts to loved ones, review your investment strategies including Roth IRA conversions, fund or create new tax planning trusts for business succession or wealth-transfer purposes, and even take advantage of losses to offset income from other sources in what is known as “tax-loss harvesting.”
By most accounts, although headlines may be sensational, and we are concerned about the wellbeing of our frail and vulnerable loved ones, the likelihood is that the risks of this illness will subside in the coming weeks. However, by taking the above steps now, you will be reducing the risks of the coronavirus impacting you and your family. The Smith Haughey estate planning team welcomes your calls and emails if there is anything we can do to support your preparations.