According to Caring.com, the prevalence of wills and estate planning has been on the decline since 2017 but this trend is quickly reversing itself in 2020. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the number of Americans rushing to set up wills and end-of-life directives online has exploded. In particular, many doctors and other medical professionals are scrambling to have their wills drawn up since recent reports confirm that health care workers are more likely to contract COVID-19 than the average person. However, online do it yourself (DIY) wills and advance directives are often deemed invalid as they do not comply with all of the legal requirements of your state.
So, who needs a will?
The answer is anyone married, anyone with children or anyone with assets needs a properly executed will. And certainly doctors, nurses, EMS responders, hospital custodians and any health care workers on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 should either make a will or review and update their existing one. The truth is, no matter what your profession or likelihood of contracting the virus, you should have a properly executed will during this time of considerable uncertainty.
Wills are governed by state law. In order for your will to be valid it must reflect your wishes in the language and format required by the state in which you live.
The importance of having an attorney to guide you through the process of creating a will cannot be understated. Estate planning attorneys are experts in this field and can help you understand how your will and other documents need to be phrased and structured in order to make sure they are enforceable. Many law firms are utilizing online digital teleconference and video platforms to host secure attorney-client meetings for will preparation in order to provide this in-demand service while still complying with COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
Once your will is complete, it must be correctly signed and notarized as mistakes in the will-signing process can potentially invalidate your will. In addition to providing critical advice about how your will should be structured to accomplish your unique planning and disposition goals, your attorney will guide you through the signing/execution process, which may be held by video conference in some states under COVID-19 executive orders.
Beyond creating a will, many Americans are increasingly concerned about their powers of attorney, health care surrogates, living wills, and end of life directives. These “life documents” that are in force only while you are alive are equally as important as your will. Designated executors, successors, beneficiaries, and agents should have several back-up representatives as the mortality rates from the coronavirus continue to increase.
There are few a things you can do to create a sense of relief and assurance during this time of high anxiety and uncertainty. Creating a will and advance directives that reflect your wishes and will be enforceable is one of those things.
Take action today to protect yourself and your loved ones to get this important process underway by contacting us at 678-319-0100 or by filling out our contact form here.