For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought up concerns for those with dependents about just what would happen to their loved ones if the coronavirus were to strike. As a result, there’s been a growing interest in estate planning in order to secure the futures of our loved ones should we die.

COVID-19 brings opportunities and challenges when you are planning your estate. Here are some tips to make it easier:

Form a team

The first step toward estate planning should be assembling a team. This is very important because working with a team is helpful in structuring and managing your plan. Your team members should consist of a trusted financial advisor, an estate planning lawyer, and a tax professional. Your most trusted loved ones should also be part of the team.

This will help you in mapping out a fully fledged plan that is unique to your needs. The main goal is to make sure that your assets are distributed to the selected people or organizations without any confusion.

Frame your wishes

Your estate plan should signify what you want to have happen to your property and possessions after your death. You should include the following in your estate plan: your living will; powers of attorney (health care and financial); last will and testament.

Name a guardian

If you have young dependents, you should choose someone who would step in as their guardian if there is no surviving spouse. Choosing a guardian ahead of time is a smart move so that you can get the chosen person’s consent in advance. This is obviously better than surprising someone with your decision should you be incapacitated or pass on. However, make sure the guardian doesn’t take control of the money you have left for your dependents.

Use a trust

You can think of a trust as a special trunk that is designed to keep the money for your heirs. You have the control over the trust, from depositing the assets to deciding who gets what and how it will be distributed among the people you want.

Think about state and federal estate taxes

Generally, if your estate is open to federal or state estate taxes, the taxes are to be paid in cash within nine months of death. If your estate does not have enough cash, your loved ones may need to sell off the assets they inherit from you, such as your home, vehicle or collections. Therefore, consult your tax professional, financial advisor, and attorney regarding estate tax planning strategies. 

Avoid probate

Probate is the legal process of getting the verification of your will done through courts. This is a slow, lengthy, and costly procedure. Also, it isn’t a private matter. One of the best ways to avoid probate is to have a living trust, which is a legal document that states who you want to manage and distribute your assets if you’re unable to do so, and who receives your assets when you pass away.

Secure banking and finances

Most financial institutions will allow you to choose someone as the “Transfer on Death” beneficiary of your accounts. When you die, the person you chose will automatically receive the account without needing to administer your estate through a court. 

Designate your online accounts

After your death, someone should be able to access your digital assets, such as social media handles, email accounts, and so on. Therefore, make this clear in your financial power of attorney and provide user names and passwords for whomever would access them.

Don’t forget your pets

Make sure you don’t leave your pets out of your estate plan. Think about who will take care of them in the event of your death, and provide them with all the necessary details about your pets’ health.

Plan for your funeral and burial or cremation

Finally, plan your funeral and burial or cremation arrangements. Write down your special wishes, at some other place than your will, and make sure someone can access your notes.

This will be enough preparation to deal with your affairs should you pass on as a result of the pandemic. So, create your plan now and get it reviewed by a professional who can tell you about necessary changes if there are any errors. 

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