The coronavirus outbreak has motivated many people who have avoided planning their estate to draft, revise, or finalize essential documents.
SEATTLE, WA, October 19, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Dickson Frohlich law firm announced today that the COVID pandemic has caused many Washington State citizens who have been holding off on estate planning to finally face making end-of-life decisions.
“It’s common for people to delay end-of-life planning, however, with the recent Corona virus outbreak, that has changed. We’re now seeing people beginning to draft, revise or finalize essential documents,” said Robert Dickson, estate attorney and partner at Dickson Frohlich. “People have become aware that now is the time to take care of their estate-planning needs so that they will have something in place should illness or death occur. Without an estate plan in place, state intestacy laws and probate courts will dictate what happens with your property. In fact, without an estate plan, the state may also appoint individuals who will be responsible for your financial affairs and health-care decisions.”
Dickson also points out that an estate planning and probate law attorney can help you decide how you want your estate and finances to be managed after you are gone. He provides tips to estate planning during the COVID pandemic:
1. Make sure you have all essential estate-planning documents and that they are up-to-date. The following are the basic documents that everyone should have:
• Will: Your will directs how you want your assets distributed after death, and it can appoint guardians for minor children. If you die without a will, called being “intestate,” Washington laws decide who gets your assets and other property — generally, your next of kin.
• Trust: In addition to a will, many people should have a trust, useful for providing support for a special-needs child, minimizing taxes, or protecting assets from creditors. With a living trust, you retain control of your assets while alive, and your beneficiaries receive the trust property when you die, without going through probate. These trusts are revocable, and you can change or terminate them.
• Living will: A living will, or advance health care directive, directs the kind of medical care you want if you are terminally ill and unable to make those decisions yourself. This includes, most obviously, whether you desire to be kept alive on life-support systems.
• Health care durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney for health care, or health care proxy, supplements a living will by letting you name someone, often a close relative, to make health care decisions for you if you are alive but unable to make decisions for yourself.
• Durable power of attorney for finances: If you become incapacitated, a financial power of attorney grants a third party the authority to manage your finances and facilitate transactions on your behalf.
• HIPAA authorization: The federal Health Insurance Affordability and Accountability Act set privacy rules for patient records. The HIPAA authorization is a release document that allows people you name to have access to your medical records and communicate with doctors and nurses if you are ill.
2. Use remote services: State law requires that the above documents be signed you (obviously). However, some of the documents must also be signed by adult witnesses and be notarized. For a document to be notarized, it requires a notary to acknowledge the signature and affix his or her notary stamp on the document to be valid. Nowadays, however, Washington allows for remote online notarization in which a notary and signer are in different locations and use two-way audiovisual communication to securely execute electronic documents.
“In today’s COVID environment, with many people quarantined or avoiding in-person contact, finalizing estate planning documents can be done with your attorney, accountants, and financial advisor team all working from home,” said Dickson.
About Dickson Frohlich
Dickson Frohlich has been serving businesses and individuals in the Puget Sound area for more than 30 years. With over 100 years of combined legal experience across a broad spectrum of legal disciplines, their practice is primarily focused on helping you and your family on a wide range of estate planning and probate matters and protecting your financial future. Their team of lawyers finds solutions that guard your financial well-being during real estate transactions, business dealings, and future planning through estate and probate issues. Call Dickson Frohlich today at (206) 621-1110 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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