The COVID19 pandemic has created unprecedented concerns on public health. With all this uncertainty, individuals who normally would not consider estate planning for a few decades now feel urgency to do so. COVID19 effects people differently, with some cases extremely severe and others manageable, making it uncertain as to how it will affect you. Rather then waiting to execute your documents until it is urgent, it is important to execute them while you have the time, resources, and are health to do so.
One major obstacle that you may face if you wait too long to execute documents for your estate is the COVID19 restrictions on access to care facilities and hospitals. First, you may want your family to participate in meetings. Without access to you, these meetings will have to happen remotely. In addition to not having the ability to have meetings with both your attorney and family present, there will also be obstacles in the actual execution of documents. A will, one of the most important parts of your estate planning, is a legal document that spells out how your property is to be distributed and designates a person to manage the property through its distribution. In Iowa, a will must have two witnesses. Additionally, in order to be “self-proving” a will must be notarized. A self-proving will can speed up the probate process to the benefit of your family. Another estate planning tool that you may use to effectively distribute your property is a trust. A trust holds specific property for a specified recipient, with the benefit of avoiding the probate process that it would undergo if it was included in the will. In Iowa, a trust must also be notarized. Without two witnesses and a notary present, a will and a trust cannot be executed. Although there are some options for remote witnessing and notarization, it can be unreasonably cumbersome and add complication and expense. Finally, and most importantly, effective estate planning requires deliberate decisions and intentional planning, which is much more manageable while you are healthy.
Estate planning should not wait until you are in crisis mode. By planning and executing documents now, you will save you and your family significant time and stress. The attorneys at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fisher & Bouslog, P.C. are experienced in handling complex estate issues. Contact us at (515) 288-5000 to discuss your estate planning with our firm.
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