Our estate planning attorneys in Raleigh always recommend that every adult have a will and a written directive for a power of attorney in the event of unexpected illness or an accident. We understand it’s a difficult topic and no one likes to think about having to plan for the day when they are no longer here, but we have seen countless incidents of someone passing away without a will or any type of plan in place. This often leads to fighting and contentious legal battles among family members trying to divide an estate or leaving loved ones in the lurch while the estate goes through probate.

Having a will and a power of attorney directive in place now is even more important than ever as COVID-19 has taken the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans. At the beginning of the pandemic, in March and April, there was a massive increase in the amount of wills being drawn up, particularly among front-line workers – doctors, nurses, postal employees, and teachers. However, it’s important that every adult has a will and living will in place. To help you, we’re taking a closer look at what these documents are and how to best prepare them to ensure your wishes are carried out.

Preparing to Write a Will

Writing a will ensures your final wishes are carried out and prevents a drawn out probate or confusion as to what happens to property. In your will you can stipulate:

  • writing-will-raleigh-estate-planningWho receives property, possessions, and any financial holdings, including investments;
  • A guardian for your minor children;
  • The executor of your estate, or the person who will ensure your final wishes are carried out.

Before you draft your will, it’s important you have a discussion with the people you plan on naming to be a guardian to your children. Are they willing to do so, and are they willing to raise your children in a way you would have? Will they be financially provided for? It’s important that they consent to this responsibility before naming them in the will.

Additionally, you’ll want to name your executor and discuss it with them. Often, people will name a spouse or child, but often, they’re too overcome with grief to carry out the will. Instead, having a trusted friend or even an attorney to carry out your wishes may be better.

Once your will is drawn up to your satisfaction, it must be signed in front of two witnesses, and your witnesses must also sign it in front of you to ensure it’s legally valid. This may be complicated to do while social distancing, but having an attorney draw up your will allows you to safely visit the office and members of staff can sign in a large room that allows you to stay apart.

Health Care Directives During COVID-19

While nearly 200,000 people have passed away due to COVID-19, over 6 million have gotten sick from it, and many of those people have ended up in intensive care or are otherwise incapacitated. Putting health care directives in place to ensure your health care wishes are known in the event you’re unable to communicate. This includes a living will, which informs health care workers of any “Do Not Resuscitate” directives or when to stop providing life-sustaining treatment.

Designating a Power of Attorney

Naming a financial power of attorney is essential to ensuring your financial affairs are properly managed if you become incapacitated, even if it’s temporary. The person you name as power of attorney is able to file tax returns, sell property, and oversee investments and accounts, so it’s important you choose someone you trust and have confidence in. This could be a spouse, close friend, or even a business partner, but it’s important to choose the person who you feel has the financial acumen and knowledge to represent your wishes most effectively.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Estate Planning Attorneys in Raleigh

At our estate planning law firm in Raleigh, we work with people from all walks of life set up wills and trusts to ensure their final wishes are met. While navigating the COVID-19 era is challenging, having your legal, financial, and health care matters solidified can provide you with confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a consultation with our attorneys, reach out to us today at (919) 615-2473 or fill out our form below. We provide safe consultation methods by providing phone and video meetings to our clients.

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Terrell joined Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, L.L.P. in 1994. His general practice includes civil litigation, general business representation, family law and workers’ compensation, as well as wills, estate planning, estate administration, and estate litigation.

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