Eight people dead. 209 confirmed cases (as of Mar. 24, 2020). Coronavirus/COVID-19 is a reality in Oregon. We hope that social distancing and other measures will help curb the spread of the disease. In the meantime, now is the time to review and update your Oregon estate plan. Or, if you don’t have an estate plan, now is the time to work with the right Oregon estate planning attorney to get the right documents ready to go.
Why have a current will and estate plan in Oregon?
Put simply, your will and other estate planning documents help ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you have children or other loved ones you want to provide for or leave assets to, your will and/or trust explain and dictate how those wishes will be carried out.
Estate plans can also include a durable Power of Attorney and an Advanced Health Care Directive that can state your wishes in the event of coronavirus or other illness or injury making you too impaired to have a voice in your medical care. The Power of Attorney also gives someone you appoint the power to pay your bills, talk to retirement companies, and discuss your investment objectives, to give a few examples of what a POA allows someone to do when you are not able to.
These are important documents for everyone to have done correctly.
- Senior citizens are in a higher risk group for coronavirus/COVID-19. By having your affairs in order, and by having documents in place to state your medical care preferences, you can gain crucial peace of mind and spare your loved ones added stress, pain, uncertainty in the event of your illness or death. We especially recommend that seniors review (or establish) their health care legal documents and estate instruments.
- Parents with minor children will want to ensure that they have their finances set aside for their children and their preference known for a guardian for their children.
- Business owners will want, along with operating agreements, the right documents ready to ensure smooth transition or winding-up of their operations.
If you have an Oregon will and/or estate plan, now is a good time to review its provisions too:
- Does your estate plan still reflect your current wishes and circumstances?
- Are your trusts current?
- Are your medical provisions comprehensive and accurate?
- Is your IRA distribution through your trust characterized properly given the new regulations in place?
Regardless of what documents you do and do not have, our office can help you review, update, and prepare your Oregon estate plan documents and medical documents.
Setting up a will and estate plan in the time of coronavirus
For starters, setting up or reviewing your estate plan does not have to be a painful or complicated process.
In these times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, our office will leverage the phone, online tools, and hygiene best practices to help us communicate with you and prepare your documents in as safe a manner as possible.
Times like these remind us that we want to have our affairs in order both for our own peace of mind, and to protect and reassure those we love. Our office is here to help you make sure your estate is in order.
Oregon estate settlement and probate
A will and estate plan can help the settlement of an estate go more smoothly and conform to the wishes of the deceased.
When a loved one passes away, their estate—all their property, assets, and liabilities—will need to be managed and dispensed. In the absence of a valid will, trust, and other estate planning documents, the person who passed away will not have control over who is in charge of his or her estate. Only those listed in the current Oregon intestacy statute will be a beneficiary of the estate. That can potentially lead to additional hassle, time, and expense.
Our office is also available to help administer an estate when a loved one passes away. This includes walking the personal representative through the probate process or administering a trust.
What should your Oregon estate plan include?
There is no one-size-fits-all estate. As I work with you to prepare your estate plan, there are various legal documents and legal instruments we may consider. Here are a few examples (but remember, this is not an exhaustive list, and different people will need and want different things):
- Advanced Health Care Directives: What are your wishes for the health care you do or do not want to receive?
- Healthcare surrogate and medical power of attorney (MPOA): Sets out who is authorized to make decisions about your health care in the event of you being incapacitated, and includes necessary releases to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Financial and estate plan instruments
- Power of attorney (POA): Establishes who is authorized to act on your behalf in life and financial matters, such as paying bills, managing investments, and/or directing health care.
- Will: Set out your overall wishes for how you want your assets to be distributed or disposed of. Can also be used to establish preference when deciding on a guardian for minor children, and much more.
- Trusts: Specifies how you want named financial and/or other assets managed during your life or after your death.
Online will creation sites do not sufficiently protect your interests because it only reproduces what you tell it, and most people do not know all of the options out there. An experienced estate planning attorney will work with you on all of the options available and discuss what would work best in your situation.
What to do with your legal documents
- Keep your legal documents in a safe location.
- Make sure that your agent, spouse, and other necessary people know where and how they can access your legal documents.
- Give two copies of your POA and/or MPOA to the agent: One for them to keep in a safe location, and one to carry in their vehicle, briefcase, etc., so it is always at the ready.
- If you are being hospitalized, bring signed copies of your documents with you.
Current Oregon legal medical documents and estate plans are peace of mind for you and yours
We don’t know how long the coronavirus crisis will go on. We don’t know how many people will be infected, or how many will die.
We can, however, take the time now to make sure our affairs are in order. You will have peace of mind knowing that your medical care conforms to your wishes and that someone you trust will be able to assist in managing your assets and affairs.
Hopefully your estate documents will not be needed, but in case they are, you have peace of mind knowing that your wishes are known and will be followed. It is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and your loved ones right now.