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Estate Planning Matters Especially In the Age of COVID-19

October 15, 2020

Estate Planning Matters Especially In the Age of COVID-19

The rapid escalation of the coronavirus pandemic has motivated clients to review, or even draft for the first time, their estate planning documents with their attorney.

With mortality at the forefront of everyone’s mind, clients who have been holding off on estate planning are now prompted to quickly finalize their estate plan, so that they will have something in place should illness or death befall them. Without an estate plan in place, one becomes more reliant on state laws and probate courts to appoint individuals—those who will be responsible for financial affairs and critical health-care decisions.

Sometimes individuals procrastinate on estate planning because they are unable to identify someone to act in a fiduciary position, if they are unable to act themselves. This happens more often than many people believe.  Some examples of these situations include the following:

  1. An individual has outlived his family and friends and the people he trusted are no longer able to act
  2. An individual does not have an appropriate person in his life
  3. A family suffers from dysfunction( or in-fighting) and an impartial third-party is needed

One solution to any of these challenges is to engage a California licensed fiduciary in a position of legal authority for some or all of the legal capacities. A California-licensed professional fiduciary can serve in one or more of the roles, but it is not necessary to have the same person in each position.

  1. Revocable Trust

A revocable trust allows you to avoid probate in the Courts when you pass. In addition, if you become unable to act as your own trustee, your successor trustee can take over for you and handle your financial assets, income, and bills. If you find yourself in the above three situations, consider naming a licensed fiduciary as your successor trustee.

  1. Healthcare Agent for Advanced Health Directive

It is imperative you name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. If you do not have an appropriate family member or friend, consider naming a professional fiduciary who is also a licensed geriatric care manager. As a licensed care manager, this individual will ideally have training in care management, as well as be licensed as a California fiduciary to hold this position.

  1. Power of Attorney for Finances

Even if you have a trust, some assets may still be in your personal name including retirement accounts such as IRAs. A trustee will not be able to access these accounts on your behalf, and will need a power of attorney, in addition to being the successor trustee. Frequently the successor trustee and the power of attorney are the same individual but not always.

Now is the right time to take this important step you may have been thinking about for a while and we hope you’ll reach out to our compassionate and experienced team.  We can connect you with outstanding estate planning attorneys and help you and/or your family get your financial, medical and general affairs in good order, while you focus living more fully right now.

You can reach us at 949-200-9712 or info@hitchmanfiduciaries.com and we look forward to supporting you and your family soon.

Author: Lee Ann Hitchman, Founding Partner and Professional Fiduciary