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Estate planning in 2020: Tips and considerations

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an increased interest in estate planning. From medical professionals that are on the front line fighting the virus to others that have used the change in regular scheduling to prioritize the matter, this push to get a will in place is something that will benefit those who follow through long after stay at home and shelter in place orders come to an end.

Is it realistic to get an estate plan during these uncertain times?

Legal professionals can still provide counsel. In some cases, meetings can occur either through a regular phone call, emails or through the use of virtual meetings held online. Important points to discuss during these meetings include:

  • Wills and trusts. Those who already have a will and/or trust in place may want to review the documents and make changes to update them as needed. Those who are looking to get these documents in order can begin initial discussions and review first drafts to put together a document that is more likely to reflect their wishes.
  • Advance directives. These documents include a power of attorney and health care surrogate. This paperwork allows another individual to make financial and health care choices on the creator's behalf. Without these documents, bills may go unpaid and loved ones may not be able to help ensure our plans for health care are honored.

It is important to note that state law currently requires two witnesses and notarization for most estate planning documents, like the power of attorney. Although Florida lawmakers have passed a law that will allow for remote notarization beginning July 1, those who wish to get an estate plan completed prior to that date will need to follow current requirements. A failure to do so could mean parts of the estate plan are not valid.

Anyone interested in getting an estate plan or updating their plan can still safely meet these requirements. Innovative solutions can include allowing each party to use their own pen, approach the desk while maintaining social distancing or passing the document through a window.

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