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Estate and Probate

Estate Planning During COVID-19: How We Can Help

By March 25, 2020
Estate Planning During COVID-19

There is nothing like a worldwide pandemic to make us think about our estate planning – or lack thereof. If you were to pass away tomorrow, would your property really end up with the people you wish to have it? Do you have the best person assigned to handle your estate? And what if you are too sick to make your own healthcare or financial decisions?

Who will make them for you?

You likely know that Fort Worth has instituted a shelter in place order, causing many businesses to temporarily close to the public. How can you make sure that your wishes will be fulfilled if you can’t get to an attorney’s office?

That is, of course, a challenge. In a perfect world – or even two weeks ago — you would come to our office and meet with one of our estate planning attorneys. We would discuss all of these questions, and more, in great detail. We would schedule you to come back to the office about two weeks later where we would sign your will with all of the statutory formalities, which means in front of two witnesses and a notary. And yet, that does not comply with social distancing.

Well, challenge accepted.

Temporarily, our practice has instituted Zoom technology. Instead of coming to one of our offices for your initial meeting, we can talk about your wishes via videoconferencing. If you have the app on your iPad or iPhone, that’s great! If you don’t, all you need is a computer with a camera and we can still make it work for you. If that isn’t an option, then we can have that initial consultation by good, old-fashioned, telephone.

For the signing requirements, we have some tricks that may bridge the gap for you until the shelter order is lifted. We can draft your will and medical power of attorney and give you instructions about how to sign them in front of your own disinterested witnesses. Or, we can give you instructions about how to write and sign a handwritten will. At a minimum, these instructions will help you to have valid documents in place if something happens before you can meet us in person.

Many of you may wonder why, if we can give you instructions to sign your own will, we are treating this as a temporary solution. The answer is because handwritten wills don’t offer some of the provisions that attorney-drafted wills provide. Once you are able to come to our offices once again, we can include these provisions in your documents (that must be signed in front of a notary) which greatly simplify the process for your loved ones. Our goal, and yours, is to make your estate plans as simple and efficient for your loved ones as possible.

This is, without question, a scary and uncertain time. We are here to help alleviate any additional stress you may have caused by unfinished estate planning. We will help you put something in place that will work right now, and when social distancing and shelter in place orders no longer control our interactions, we will help you finalize those documents.