The last one-and-one-half years have truly been unprecedented for people in New York. As the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the state and the world, reality has been changed for everyone, and there are signs that the virus is not letting up. In addition to the myriad concerns most people have, some have started to question what might happen if they become incapacitated or pass away. New York estate planning lawyer Lesly R. Devereaux can help with COVID-19 estate planning to give you peace of mind that your wishes will be followed in the event the unthinkable happens. Here are some answers to the common questions many people have about estate planning during the pandemic.
- Should I plan my estate during the pandemic?
If you have not already completed any estate planning, you should strongly consider doing so now. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 600,000 lives, and the spread of the Delta variant demonstrates that the virus is not letting up any time soon. Having estate planning documents in place can help you to ensure that your financial and health-related matters are appropriately handled while you are alive by having advanced directives such as Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate properly drafted and signed. Further, it is imperative that your loved ones will be cared for in the event that you pass away and that your wishes will be followed.
- What will happen to my estate if I get COVID and am incapacitated?
What might happen to your estate if you contract COVID-19 will depend on whether you are incapacitated by your illness and whether you have any estate planning documents in place. If you are incapacitated and no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness, your family might have to go through court to have a guardian appointed to act on your behalf and make decisions about your medical care and finances for you. You can help your family avoid this expensive process by drafting a durable power of attorney and a medical directive. These documents allow you to appoint a trusted person to act as your attorney-in-fact to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. By drawing up these documents, you can help your family avoid the guardianship process in the probate court.
- What will happen if I die without a will or trust?
If you pass away without a will or trust, your estate will be probated. The court will appoint an administrator to handle your estate, and your assets will pass according to the state’s intestacy laws rather than according to your wishes. This might mean that your assets will be distributed in a way with which you might disagree rather than what you otherwise intended. If your estate is very large, dying without appropriate estate planning documents might also subject your estate to New York’s estate tax and, potentially, the federal estate tax.
- What documents do I need?
The particular estate planning documents that you might need will depend on your individual situation and wishes. Some of the potential documents you might want to draft include the following:
- Revocable living trust
- Irrevocable trust
- Living will
- Health care power of attorney/Health directive
- HIPAA waiver
- Durable financial power of attorney
- DNR order
Get Help Today from an Experienced New York Estate Planning Lawyer
All adults can benefit from estate planning. Even young adults should have basic estate planning documents in place in case they suffer serious injuries or illnesses that leave them incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. As the pandemic shows, anyone can contract a serious illness and potentially pass away. Completing your estate plan might help to ensure that your wishes are followed and that your family will be protected. To learn more about COVID-19 estate planning, schedule an appointment or contact attorney Lesly R. Devereaux today at 212-804-5736.