Your estate plan shouldn’t be a secret.

According to CNBC, a poll found that 32% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 got a will because of COVID-19. It’s good that the pandemic is prompting people to tackle their estate plans, but if the pandemic is also preventing people from talking to their families about their estate plan, there could be more problems down the line.

The Benefits of Open Communication

Talking to your family about estate planning can help you avoid many issues.

  • By talking openly about estate planning, you can encourage everyone in your family to take this important step. You may also help older and more vulnerable members of your family avoid being taken advantage of in estate planning scams.
  • By discussing your estate plan and making your wishes clear now, you may be able to avoid future disputes during the probate process.
  • By sharing where to find important documents and how to gain access to digital assets, you can prevent some of the difficulties that occur when a person dies unexpectedly.

How to Talk to Your Family

In normal years, the holidays would have provided a good opportunity for families to discuss estate planning. This last year hasn’t been normal. Many families played it safe and stayed home for the holidays.

This doesn’t mean you need to wait to have a discussion about estate planning, though. Instead of talking in person, you can talk over the phone or in writing. If you have a big family and need to involve a lot of people, you can use video conferencing.

Exactly how you handle the meeting will depend on your family dynamics. It’s usually a good idea to schedule a time and to give everyone a heads-up regarding the topic. Because there can be a lot to cover, you might need to make a list. Some of the details to discuss might include the following:

  • How assets will be distributed, including any family property that might be disputed
  • Who will serve as the executor of the estate
  • Guardian designations
  • Advance directive wishes in case of a medical emergency
  • Where to find key documents

But What if You Don’t Have an Estate Plan?

If you don’t have an estate plan, there’s no reason to put off creating one. And if your discussions reveal that some of your family members don’t have an estate plan, encourage them to rectify this.

Many states have temporarily loosened restrictions on online notary services, making it easier than ever to carry out estate planning while social distancing. In Oregon, Remote Online Notarization will be allowed through July 2021.

Have any estate planning questions? Contact Skinner Law for all of your estate planning needs.

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