5 Important Estate Planning Documents to Have in Place During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The unfortunate reality of the current global pandemic is that anyone can find themselves sick in the hospital and possibly no longer able to make their own financial or medical decisions. Because of this, the last thing that anyone wants is to become incapacitated without the proper estate planning documents in place.

Read on to discover what we consider the five most essential documents you should either create or update during the current COVID-19 outbreak to protect yourself, your property, and your loved ones.

Will:

 

Your will is the legal document that instructs how to distribute your assets after your death and appoints guardians for any dependents or minor children. Dying without a will leaves your assets and property in the hands of your state’s laws.

It is also recommended that you review all beneficiary designations for retirement plans and life insurance to ensure that they are current.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

It’s essential to authorize someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in case of a medical emergency that leaves you incapacitated and unable to communicate your own wishes. A durable power of attorney for health care permits you to make such an authorization.

Living Will:

 

A living will is sometimes called an advance care directive. This document outlines the kind of medical care you want if you are terminally ill. For instance, you can make it known whether you want to be kept alive on life-support systems, such as a respirator or feeding tube. You can also include instructions for organ donation.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney:

 

You also may want to make sure that your family has some kind of access to your finances in order to pay bills and medical expenses if you are unable to do so on your own. That’s why another important document to prepare is your financial power of attorney. This document gives someone the authority to handle financial transactions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

HIPAA Authorization: 

 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets federal privacy rules for medical records. However, if you’re hospitalized, you may want your spouse, children, or other close relatives to be able to communicate freely with doctors and nurses and find out how you’re doing. That’s why you may want a release document for records authorizing certain people to have rights to disclosure of your medical records.

Contact Us:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to actively spread through California, make sure you have the above documents in place and up-to-date, especially if you are an individual at high-risk of serious illness or death from Coronavirus.

David Knecht has extensive experience preparing Wills, Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives to meet your estate planning needs. Contact David Knecht Law at 707-451-4502 today to learn more about these documents or schedule an estate planning consultation. 

 

How to Know You Selected the Right Trust Administration Attorney 

 

Trust administration is the management of property after the settlor’s death according to the trust document’s terms and for the benefit of the beneficiaries. It can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and confusing. That’s why an experienced trust administration attorney is recommended to help trustees navigate the process and understand their obligations. 

Here at the Law Offices of David W. Knecht, we have extensive experience in assisting with the administration of trusts. Read on to learn about some of the most important characteristics of a good trust administration attorney!

  • Thoroughly explains your duties as trustee: The main challenge for a trustee is that they have ethical responsibilities in handling another’s financial affairs, but they often are first-time trustees and do not know what is required and expected of them. In the worst case scenario, an inexperienced trustee will end up personally liable for mistakes. The best way to prevent that from happening and to achieve success with the trust is to have an experienced trust administration attorney thoroughly explain your obligations and duties.

 

  • Guides you through the entire process: Trust administration involves a range of estate planning tasks, including providing required notices to beneficiaries, handling tax issues, protecting assets and facilitating their proper distribution, managing debts and liabilities, etc. An experienced attorney will be able to answer your trust administration questions, review your specific situation, and help you throughout the entire process.   

 

  • Clarity: Trust administration leaves a lot on a trustee’s plate. The last thing you need is an attorney who uses technical and confusing “legalese” that simply adds to your stress. An experienced attorney will be able to simplify the trust administration process for you and explain your responsibilities and goals in a clear, straightforward way.  

 

  • Responds to you quickly: Besides being able to communicate clearly, a great trust administration attorney will also make himself available to promptly respond to you, answer your questions, and assist you with your needs.  

 

  • Comfort and trust: An attorney-client relationship, like any relationship, needs to feel comfortable. Through the often stressful and emotionally-taxing trust administration process, you need to feel comfortable sharing all important information about the trust, asking the questions on your mind, and seeking help during the administration of the trust whenever needed. 

For trustees beginning the process of administering a trust, let an attorney who knows what he’s doing help you with the next steps. Contact David Knecht Law today to schedule a consultation and learn more! 

3 Qualities of a Capable Probate Lawyer

 

The American Bar Association defines probate as “the court-supervised legal procedure that determines the validity of your will.” When an individual dies, their will is filed with the court and the probate process begins. During this process, the estate’s property, debts, and claims are inventoried, appraised, and eventually distributed to beneficiaries according to the will. 

This process can be time-consuming, complicated, and overwhelming, especially when dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. A qualified probate attorney can help you through it all. Read on to learn about some of the most essential qualities that you should look for when selecting a probate attorney. 

 

  • Knowledge and Experience:

A probate attorney should be well-versed in the complex laws and court procedures that are involved in the probate process. You’ll particularly want to work with an attorney who understands California probate law and who has kept up-to-date on the most recent changes to the state’s statutes and case law developments. 

You’ll also want to find a probate lawyer with plenty of experience. Never select a probate lawyer who is just starting out. Look for an attorney who has practiced California probate law extensively and who understands the nuances of your local court, so that you can be sure you have a qualified person handling your case.  

 

  • Effective Communication:

Every lawyer needs effective communication skills. This is particularly true for probate lawyers because the job requires clear communication with a number of people, including the executor, the court, and the client. 

What this means is that you’ll want to find a lawyer who can not only advocate well for you in front of a judge or an executor, but who can also help you understand the probate process. Estate planning can be complicated. The best probate lawyers can answer all your questions and explain the probate process to you in the most simple and straightforward way possible. 

 

  • Empathy 

Losing a loved one is difficult. While you might not want to even think about estate planning and probate while you’re dealing with such loss, these issues need to be resolved quickly and effectively. 

Because of the sensitive nature of the probate process, it’s important for the lawyer handling the case to be compassionate and empathetic towards their client. The best kind of lawyer will be sensitive to their client’s needs, alleviate the stress of handling the deceased individual’s estate, and quickly resolve any problems that arise during the probate process.

With the professional advice and assistance of a California probate attorney, you can ensure your loved one’s estate is properly taken care of. Contact David Knecht Law today to schedule a consultation!