The recent coronavirus pandemic of COVID-19 has, unfortunately, forced many to realize how fleeting life can be. Since the pandemic began, millions of people across the country have begun to make plans in the event that the unthinkable occurs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused 306,530 deaths worldwide, and 87,822 deaths in the United States to date, according to recent data. The mysterious disease has infected over 4,500,000 people across the globe.
As such, there has been an increased demand for wills and life insurance policies as people prepare to plan for their family’s future in case tragedy strikes. One of the world’s premiere financial advisory and investment groups, the deVere Group, has reported that there has been a 76% increase in demand for wills, and a 50% increase in demand for life insurance since the outbreak began.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by Caring.com, only 32% of Americans have a will. This number has decreased in recent years. The survey also revealed that less than half of all middle-aged and older Americans have estate planning in place. Most people reported that they did not pursue estate planning due to a lack of education or its cost.
This surge in demand for estate planning instruments had also increased the demand for estate planning attorneys across the country.
The Benefits of Proper Estate Planning
However, the importance of having an estate plan in place cannot be overstated. For example, a will can distribute your property according to your wishes and name guardians for your children. It will also prevent the state from taking control of your property.
A trust is also an important estate planning tool. A trust will avoid estate taxes and allow your family to avoid an expensive and lengthy probate. A trust can also protect your assets from creditors.
Additionally, certain trusts allow for the care of minor children or family members with special needs. A trust can also make charitable donations for a period of time.
If There Is a Will, There Is a Way
The coronavirus has completely changed the landscape of our daily lives. Social distancing rules have been put in place to help curb the spread of the potentially dangerous disease. Non-essential businesses are closed, and people are now required to maintain six feet of distance between them.
As such, some estate planning attorneys may find it difficult to take advantage of the increased demand for wills and other estate planning services.
For example, two independent witnesses that are unrelated to the client must be present when the will is signed. It may be impossible, in some instances, to have the people necessary in order to execute a will or trust in a room together, especially if the client is elderly or at high risk.
However, some states are attempting to address these problems in consideration of the disease’s severity and unpredictability. In some instances, witnesses may be allowed to sign the document remotely and will allow attorneys to notarize documents remotely.
Alternatively, a will signing can be arranged to take place in a large open space where social distancing guidelines can be followed. This might require all of the participants to keep the appropriate distance from each other, to wear masks and gloves, and to use separate signing instruments.
Another alternative would be to assist the client in preparing a handwritten, or holographic, will. These wills are typically unwitnessed, but are valid if signed by the testator.