What to Know About Wills and Testaments in the Current Coronavirus Situation
With the increase in deaths from the Coronavirus pandemic, many people have started to consider their need for a Will. Those who have one but haven’t thought about it for a while, are reviewing them to make adjustments. So, family attorneys and those whose practice is focused on Wills and Testaments, are seeing an increase in phone calls and website visits. In this article you will learn what to know about wills and testaments in the current coronavirus situation.
Although most people heard of a last will and testament, the majority -nearly 60 percent of Americans do not have one. This was documented in an article on the death of Prince by CNBC.com, from February 2017 written by Tom Anderson. Some think that because they are not rich, they don’t need one. But most family lawyers and will attorneys, advice everyone who is alive, to get a will done, even if they are not wealthy under today’s standards.
Do you need a will or testament?
As mentioned above, most family lawyers would answer YES to this question. However, there is no one answer for everyone. A person doesn’t have to be rich in order for it to be a good idea to have a Will prepared. It is important to consider that your last will and testament is not for you. Once you are no longer part of this world, what is left behind is your loved ones and whatever you attained in your lifetime.
The assets or stuff you leave behind, have to be either disposed of or managed by someone. In most cases this responsibility is going to fall on the shoulders of your family members or close friends. If there is no one to take care of what you leave behind, then the government can take over. This may not seem like something probable, but nowadays, a high percentage of people in developed countries die alone. Because no one is notified of their deaths, and/or when notified they figure there’s nothing to do, what is left behind is either lost or becomes the property of the State.
Memories, such as photos, diplomas, letters, and other stuff that may have emotional value, may be lost forever. On the other hand, money, furniture, clothes, properties, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and others, get left behind without anyone to claim them. Things that you may not think are worth anything, may be of value to someone who cared about you.
Another thing to consider is, the every day things that we take for granted that have a monetary value. For example: the money left in your savings account, insurance payments you may or may not know your beneficiaries are entitled to, among others. If there is no one authorized to claim these, the banks and insurance companies are not going to search for who to pay this money out to. This is why, a Will is a good idea for almost anyone. Even if you think there is nothing worth leaving to anyone, a testament can lighten the burden of your death.
Why is a testament necessary?
Now that Covid-19 is all over the news and on most people’s mind, the need for a Will is more evident. Because life can be taken away any moment, the time to plan for what happens next is now.
Death does not always come with a notice so that you can put things in order. Many times it comes unexpected. Other times, before that final breath, a person’s ability to manage their affairs is taken away, either by a prolonged hospitalization or mental incapacity. Or in the case of our present Coronavirus situation, most institutions are not fully functional, and you may not be able to get some administrative errands done in a short time. Therefore, the time to get a Will is now.
Think about a Will as your way of leaving things in order so that the people you love do not have to get overwhelmed with your lack of responsibility. Your testament is a way of telling your loved ones that you cared.
A Will should contain all the necessary information for them to manage and/or dispose of your things or assets, in the manner that you wanted. If your testament is prepared correctly, then there won’t be any problems or difficulties for the people you leave behind to follow its instructions.
Everyone should have a testament done. Also, make sure to check or revise it from time to time. This allows a person to include information which may or may not be known about assets, insurance policies, retirement accounts, storage units, bank CDs, etc. Debts are not too important when it comes to wills and testaments, because most are backed up by credit insurance. So even if you think there is nothing for you to leave anyone, a Will is necessary to make things easier for those left behind.
Is hiring an attorney necessary to write up Wills and Testaments?
Hiring a lawyer who specializes in wills and testaments is a great idea. In most cases the fee that you pay a Wills attorney is not a significant one compared to the value of your peace of mind. However, a testament does not have to be a very elaborate document. The complexity of your situation determines how detailed your Will should be.
You want to avoid one for all solutions such as downloading templates from the internet. This option may cause you to make mistakes by using legal vocabulary that you may or may not understand. It is better to first make a list of your assets and/or what you own. Then a list of the people you most care about and those who you consider the most responsible to manage the distribution of things after you pass. This information will make the process of elaborating Wills and Testaments a lot easier. Then decide if you want to hire professional help to structure a clear, legally binding and specific document.
Whether you decide to have a lawyer prepare your Will or try to structure it yourself, the best decision you can make NOW, is to get your testament done.