Knowledge and Insights

Your Estate Documents Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

OK so, a couple weeks of quarantine down, you’ve caught up on all the shows/movies you’ve been wanting to see, cleaned out that junk drawer, read a book, now you’re bored – and from everything we’re hearing all or most of April will be seen from inside our homes as well. I bet you haven’t thought about your Will and other estate planning documents.

I know, not the most appealing of topics, but a necessary one. From the typical questions like “who will be the executor of my estate and who do I leave my assets to”, to the lesser thought about, “who will choose my nursing home, is it the same person who will pay my bills and feed Fluffy if I end up in the hospital long-term”? These are important things to consider especially in light of the ongoing pandemic we’re experiencing.

Maybe you are ahead of the game and have your documents in order.  Do they include a will, a medical directive (Living Will), a durable power of attorney or a Revocable Trust? When was the last time you did an Estate check-up? Are all of your loved ones or favorite charities included? All of your assets accounted for?  Are they properly titled and aligned to your documents?  Are your documents tax or probate efficient?  Have you addressed the possibility that someone may need to make financial decisions if you are incapacitated?

What about taking care of you? It is necessary to review your Living Will periodically. Living Wills are easily modified to reflect changes in your health, finances, or perspective on end-of-life care. Even if your wishes don’t change, a Living Will should be regularly updated to take into account changes in medical technology.

It is advisable to regularly review your Will and other planning documents as your circumstances change so that it accurately reflects your current wishes and life stage. A good rule of thumb is that any major life change, be it marital status, birth or death of a child or spouse, or a major change in your financial picture is a time to update your Plan. At a minimum, you should also look it over every three – five years and make any updates according to new estate planning laws.

And if you really are at the top of your game and you can say “please, I’ve got this,” where is your copy of the Will and other Estate planning documents-are you the only one who knows where it is? What about other important documents- titles/deeds, insurance information, social security card, birth/marriage certificate, tax returns? Passwords or safe combinations?   Electronic records and online account access codes? A Consumer Reports National Research Center report found that one in four Americans have either lost or forgotten a financial document and only 40 percent could locate important documents if needed- so how do we expect our loved ones to know where our important documents are kept?

The pandemic quarantine has given us all a chance to get the paperwork of our lives in order. Whatever category you fall into, Mercadien’s trust and estate planning professionals can help you create and implement, review and update, or maintain a plan that reflects your personal values. We’re here to help you minimize any tax liabilities and maximize your wealth while figuring out the best course of action for your beneficiaries. We’ll work with your other advisors collaboratively to develop an integrated plan and help you communicate that plan to the people in your life that matter…

If you have any questions, or would like further information on this topic and our Trust and Estate Planning Services, contact me at or 609-689-2319.

DISCLAIMER: This advisory resource is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute business or tax advice, and may not be used and relied upon as a substitute for business or tax advice regarding a specific issue or problem. Advice should be obtained from a qualified accountant, tax practitioner or attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where that advice is sought.