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Estate Planning amid COVID-19

April 10, 2020

By
Shannon Bishop Arvin
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
(859) 231-3616
shannon.arvin@skofirm.com

Sarah Sloan Reeves
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
(859) 231-3939
sarah.reeves@skofirm.com

Andrew Donovan
Attorney, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
(859) 231-3076
andrew.donovan@skofirm.com

We are living in unprecedented times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the lives of millions across the world, and fears and anxieties over the health and safety of loved ones, the economy and one’s own livelihood are omnipresent. Given this climate of uncertainty, concerns over whether your affairs are in order and whether your loved ones will be provided for in the event of accident or illness are natural and reasonable.

Fortunately, creating an estate plan is one area in which you can still exercise control and receive peace of mind knowing that your intentions will be followed, and your loved ones will continue to be protected.

Basic Estate Planning Documents

Will
A Will is a legal document through which you dispose of property owned in your individual name, appoint a personal representative (also called an “executor”), guardian of minor children, and a trustee, if appropriate, and grant these fiduciaries certain powers to act, among other matters. In the absence of a Will, your estate will pass according to the intestacy statute of your state of residence. No matter how large (or small) your estate, intestacy is not an ideal option, since your wishes may not match what state law requires for intestate succession. Such scenarios can be avoided if you draft and execute a simple Will. A Will doesn’t have to be complicated but can go a long way towards ensuring your intent is carried out.

Advance Directives and Powers of Attorney
In today’s current state of affairs, it is more important than ever that someone you know and can rely on is prepared to look out for you in the event of an accident or illness. Advanced directives and Powers of Attorney allow you to plan ahead for such events by appointing the person or persons you trust to handle your affairs. Implementing these documents will save your loved one’s time and money and guarantee you get the care you need as soon as possible.

Other Considerations

Finally, it is important to review all of your accounts, including life insurance, bank, retirement or other financial accounts with beneficiary designations, real property titled jointly with right of survivorship, etc., to confirm that they are accurate and up-to-date. In addition, applicable state law may provide certain rights to your heirs that a simple Will cannot adequately address. Thus, it is always important to consult with your attorney to determine what additional steps are necessary to protect your wishes and assets.

Executing Estate Planning Documents

Under Kentucky law, the execution of a Will and certain estate planning documents must occur in the presence of and be acknowledged by two witnesses and a notary. In today’s climate of “social distancing,” this legal requirement presents an obvious roadblock to the valid execution of estate planning documents. However, on March 27, 2020, as part of the COVID-19 Relief Bill (SB 150), the General Assembly included language stating that in the execution of legal documents, “individuals not in the same physical location shall be considered in the presence of one another if the individuals can communicate via a video teleconference.”

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control during this time of national crisis. However, challenges often present unique opportunities. Uninterrupted time at home presents the opportunity to take stock of what is important to you and your family. If you need assistance, our estate planning attorneys are here to help you take control of your estate plan.

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Stoll Keenon Ogden understands that these are trying times for our clients and our country. Our firm operations have continued uninterrupted and our attorneys are equipped to serve as we always have – for more than 120 years.

Attorneys with Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC’s Trust and Estates Law practice group are dedicated to meeting the needs of families, businesses and individuals.

Please also be sure to consult the Stoll Keenon Ogden Coronavirus Resource webpage for additional articles and information related to the latest information on new laws and directives enacted by federal, state, and local governments in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.