In times like these, people tend to wonder, “What would happen if I were to pass away?” “Will my family, my pets and my possessions be taken care of in the way that I want?” These are questions that need to be considered carefully so that children are cared for thoughtfully, your pets don’t end up at The Humane Society, and treasured possessions aren’t sold en masse in a garage sale. With the impacts of coronavirus, state planning attorneys are busier than ever, trying to get estate plans together while loved ones are isolated in ICU units.
No matter how good the attorneys are, when things are rushed and a loved one cannot give their input, mistakes are made. I recently heard a probate judge speak to errors in documents she has recently come across. One that stuck with me was a widow who died of the coronavirus. Her will defined her survivors as her 4 children and her husband’s 2 children as “my children.” Her will stated that half of her estate be given to “my children” and the other half be given to her husband’s children. I am not sure she meant to split half of her estate among all 6 children and the other half between just her husband’s 2 children—however, that was how the will was drafted.
This is a great time to talk through what you would like to see happen when you pass and choose who is the most appropriate to handle your estate. If there are younger children or a large estate, perhaps it is appropriate to have trusts set up. Who would you like to handle your household finances should you be unable to pay bills? Who do you want to make end of life health care choices for you, and will they be capable of making the choices you desire?
The next step is to take the time to have the documents drafted by a qualified Minnesota estate planning attorney. They will know how to incorporate Minnesota law into your documents to make sure your wishes will be carried out. If you change states, make sure that you have an attorney in your new state check through the documents to determine is your will is valid in your new home state. You should at the minimum have a will, health care directive, and a durable power of attorney for finance.
Your estate planning documents should be reviewed every 3 to 4 years to determine if goals have changed. Children grow up, friends change, wishes change, and relationships evolve. Make sure your documents stay current with your life.
We have several helpful tips on our resources page to assist you in making sure you take control over your end of life and make it easier for loved ones to understand what your wishes are and make it easier to carry out your wishes. Visit our resources page to get your copy of our Personal & Financial Inventory and What to Do When a Loved One Dies.