How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Your Estate Planning Efforts

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Your Estate Planning Efforts

Wealth management is much more than management of your investment portfolio. It encompasses all elements of your financial life including the need for a solid estate plan. As a result of the current environment and the COVID-19 pandemic it is essential to revisit your estate plan and make adjustments as needed.

You should also consider reviewing other components of your estate plan such as, wills, revocable living trusts, any other trusts, beneficiary designations, and life insurance to reflect any new circumstances.

Now is the time to review your advance directive to ensure that it reflects your current wishes. Your Advance Directive provides instructions on if you wish to be kept alive by artificial means. Due to COVID-19 resulting in individuals needing to be put on ventilators, it is important for your wording to encompass broad enough language that will reflect your wishes and allow you to be kept alive in the event you contract this disease and need to be put on a ventilator.

An advance directive is what many people think of as a living will, or a durable power of attorney for health care. An advance directive is a written document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment in the future, including if you are no longer able to make those decisions.

Once you create your advance directive, you register it with the Vermont Advance Directive Registry electronic database. You are not required by law to send an advance directive to the registry. However, registered directives give hospitals and other health care providers quick access to them in an emergency. Registration is free for Vermonters.

For general information, to request forms, help with completing an advance directive or form, or about medical decision making:
ven@vtethicsnetwork.org
Phone: 802-828-2909
Monday to Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm

Additional Facts You Should Know
• In Vermont, it is not automatically a person’s next of kin (spouse, parent, adult sibling, etc.) who can make decisions if a person is unable to speak for themselves.
• There’s no need to involve a lawyer in creating or revising advance directives. In Vermont, these documents need only be witnessed by two adults and do not have to be notarized.
• If someone’s wishes change, advance directive documents can, and should, be changed.
• Most importantly, for advance directives to be effective, people need to have conversations with their appointed decision-maker and other loved ones about their values and what matters most to them.

Vermont’s Advance Directive Registry
• Vermont offers a registry for residents to submit their advance directives free of charge.
• The Vermont Advance Directive Registry (VADR) is part of the national US Living Will Registry.
• It is a secure online database where Vermonters can submit copies of their completed advance directive forms to be accessed by authorized health care facilities and providers.

You should ensure that your Power of Attorneys are still able to communicate with healthcare providers during this pandemic. Since travel restrictions have been put in place, and so few are allowed into hospitals, it is important to make sure that your documents include language that empowers your agent(s) to provide medical instructions verbally either over the phone, via email or electronic video.

Beneficiary Designations are powerful- so powerful that the people you name generally inherit those accounts regardless of any other instructions included in your will. You should consider reviewing them to ensure the person who you chose is still the person you want receiving that asset.

If you have loved ones who depend on you for support and may suffer financially without your income, life insurance may also have a crucial role in your estate planning.

You may also want to review your will to reflect how you want your assets distributed, who you want to serve as guardian of your minor children, and who you want to oversee the administration of your estate.

There are additional considerations including that of a revocable living trust and other types of trusts to reflect your specific objectives.

If you haven’t yet taken the steps to create an estate plan, we suggest doing so. CopperLeaf Financial has deep experience with all aspects of estate planning including a reliable network of estate planning attorneys that we collaborate with.

For more information on each of these key estate planning tools, visit our previous blog posts:
Key Estate Planning Tools
Key Estate Planning Tools Continued

With offices in Williston and Rutland, Vermont Copper Leaf Financial develops a customized wealth management plan designed to integrate every aspect of your financial life. We look through all components of your financial plan and identify opportunities to put tax-efficient strategies into play for you – strategies that should be applied today and revisited as your circumstances evolve with the goal of a prosperous tomorrow. Call us today at 802-536-1843 to schedule a strategy session and begin building your road map to financial success.