17 March, 2020
The Coronavirus is a wake up call. It should be considered a system check.
As of this writing, the Governor of Louisiana has ordered the closure of restaurants, bars, casinos, and gyms, in addition to public school. Colleges have closed their doors moving to remote / video classroom instruction. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited. There are shortages of staples in grocery stores. Ebay is rumored to have suspended the sale of hand-sanitizer due to price gouging. People are practicing self-isolation. Before this pandemic, you might have considered people who actually planned for this eventuality a touch paranoid, or even conspiracy minded. This too shall pass, but to be honest, an underground bunker stocked with years of canned food and provisions doesn't sound so bad right now. For the latest information in real time, CLICK HERE to visit the website for Center for Disease Control (CDC). A few stats as of this writing are as follows:
80% of the cases are relatively mild;
20% of the cases turn more severe;
The mortality ranges between 2-3% of for those who contract it;
The mortality rate rises as we get older. Children are less susceptible.
It spreads easily, such as through the air and through surfaces that can hold the virus.
The tendency to procrastinate with essential estate planning is natural. Everyone does it. However, times like these magnify the need to have our legal and financial affairs in order . From the legal perspective, consider the following:
You should have at least a bare bones estate plan in place, including:
Last Will and Testament
Financial Power of Attorney
Healthcare Power of Attorney
Healthcare Directive (aka Living Will)
These essential documents are the most basic in terms of estate planning. Beware of online sources for these documents, especially in Louisiana. There are two sources of estate litigation (only two!): (1) plain old procrastination; and (2) thinking you're "all set" when you really are not, which means you simply don't understand what you're document actually do, or you have defective documents and you just don't know it yet. To avoid these issues, be sure to employ a qualified estate planning attorney, specifically one that is equipped to deliver estate planning services remotely - as we do. There is no need to risk downloading an unknown computer-generated estate planning document.
You should review beneficiary designations for all non-probate assets like life insurance, annuities and retirement plans. Beneficiary designations should be integrated with the provisions of your will or living trust.
If you have a trust (whether revocable or irrevocable), you should review funding to ensure all assets have been properly transferred to trust. Improper funding is a common problem with trust-centered planning, which is the primary reason our office actually supervises and monitors the process through completion rather than providing "funding instructions."
With current technology, much of the estate planning process can be achieved remotely in the comfort of your own home. Our office is uniquely positioned for remote operations through cloud-based matter management and communication platforms, as well as video and telephone conferencing technology. We can provide estate planning services to anyone from any location in the world - and we do. We are moving client meetings, except those which require the execution of documents in the presence of a notary and two witnesses to an online format or telephone conference. For Signing Meetings (where documents are executed in the presence of a notary and two witnesses, we are taking the following precautions:
The building is implementing high-touch cleaning and disinfecting protocol, including more frequent cleaning of restrooms, conference rooms, and other touchpoints.
We schedule thirty (30) minute intervals between in person client meetings to implement disinfecting protocol.
Hand Sanitizers are available in the main building lobby.
We recommend utilizing the restrooms near our firm’s back entrance for cleaning your hands before and after your visit.
The most touched surfaces in our firm’s lobby, reception area, meeting offices and conference room are being disinfected multiple times throughout the day.
The best time to start an estate plan was before the pandemic hit. The next best time is NOW, but only before you get sick. As a practical matter, if you have contracted the Coronavirus, it will be difficult for you to find an attorney that will risk you spreading the virus to the attorney and their staff. However, we can work with you remotely even if you have contracted the Coronavirus, so please do not hesitate to call. Theus Law Offices specializes in a complete range of estate planning and elder law services, including wills, trusts, probate, successions, estate administration and probate litigation. If you need a Louisiana will or trust lawyer, or a succession attorney in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, Monroe, or elsewhere in Central Louisiana, let our certified estate planning specialist and probate lawyers help you.
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