The Importance of Estate Planning in 2021: Part 1-Living Issues

Striving for Peace in Uncertain Times

We are living in uncertain times. Currently, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic’s introduction to the US. Many of us know a friend or family member who has become sick with the virus or possibly even died as a result of contraction. With these events in mind, imagine if you were to become ill and unable to make decisions regarding your care or administration of your affairs for weeks or even months. Who would oversee paying your important bills or preparing and signing your tax returns? Along that line of thinking, who would have authority to manage your hospital or rehabilitation care?

Who Would Oversee my Care?

Many people would say: My spouse or child would assume those responsibilities. But what if both you and your spouse are hospitalized and /or unable to serve? Have you chosen a “back-up” person if your spouse or child can not be reached or is unavailable? Another question: Have you asked your designated family members if they are willing and able to serve in that capacity?

Recently, a married couple who are long-time clients of our firm both contracted COVID and were hospitalized at the same time. They survived the illness, but both were unable to make decisions regarding their care for an extended period. Fortunately, they had documents that passed authority to a child who lived locally to oversee their recovery and make the necessary financial and health-care decisions.

Is a Will or Revocable Trust enough for my Estate Plan?

Often when people think of “estate planning” there is a belief that preparing a Will or Revocable Trust is all that is necessary to complete a plan. Although these documents are important to dictate the transfer of assets at death, there is more to consider. What about your wishes while you are alive? What if you were to become seriously ill or incapacitated?

Additional Living Documents to Consider

Additional living documents are needed to designate your wishes regarding how your finances and healthcare decisions should be managed.

These documents include:

  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Medical Directive
  • HIPAA Authorization forms
  • In addition, if you have minor children, Designation of Standby Guardian documents are necessary to specify who will care for your children until you can again assume your parental duties.

If you are unsure whether your documents are complete or up to date, consider reviewing them with an attorney. It is recommended that you review them every few years to assure they current with your wishes and any changes in laws.

Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic with its many complications has illustrated for us all how uncertain life can be and why we should protect ourselves and our loved ones by planning for these possibilities.

If you are considering creating an estate plan or updating your plan, the advisors at Medallion are available as a sounding board, as well as a collaborative source to work with you and your attorney.

To read Part 2: Wills and Trusts in our Estate Planning Series , click here.

To read Part 3: Leaving a Legacy in our Estate Planning Series , click here.

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About the Authors

John and Laura Stohlman have been working with clients to help them achieve retirement success since 1987. Both John and Laura have the following designations: Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC®).

At Medallion Financial Group, we believe financial planning is about Family. We have been helping families invest in the future since 1987 through a holistic planning approach. We recognize there are a variety of needs when it comes to retirement planning, plan rollovers, annuities, college planning, life insurance options, and investment management. It is easy to get lost in a sea of choices. Our financial advisors help with the basics and beyond to enable our clients to get the education, advice and management they need to retire with confidence.

Our focus is twofold: first and foremost, we are fiduciary advisors. We stand against any violation of laws, values, and ethics. Second, we treat our clients as part of our family, not only those who call Maryland and Georgia home, but clients across the US who have benefited from our reputation of personal service, integrity, and expertise.

We strive to exceed client’s expectations – because we have high expectations of ourselves.