The primary focus should, of course, be to avoid, delay, and limit the contagion of this new coronavirus in as much as possible. Predictively, many Colorado residents have made sure they have enough food and other essentials at home, “just in case”. As an estate planning firm, we wholeheartedly agree with preparedness and prevention, but it doesn’t need to stop with a trip to the grocery store. Naturally, estate planning is a crucial element of prevention that is unfortunately often overlooked, sometimes with terrible consequences.
During this time, it might be worth revisiting some of the basic estate planning steps to ensure your wishes are still up to date. The first one to consider in this context would be naming or replacing a Healthcare Power of Attorney to ensure you name the right agents. These are the persons who would make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them for yourself. It’s also important to consider your Financial Power of Attorney, this is the person who would be responsible of taking care of your financial affairs if you are incapacitated. Finally, make sure you have signed a HIPAA release form, as this document helps ensures your loved ones can get prompt access to your medical records if there is an emergency.
Generally, having a conversation with those who you have determined are in the best position to help, can clarify your thoughts, wishes, and expectations.
We trust that most of us here in Colorado will do whatever we can to protect ourselves, our families, friends, and colleagues from the COVID 19 virus. However, it is hard to predict what effect this new Coronavirus will have on our state’s court system. A more serious outbreak could cause court closures as has already happened in several other states. This means additional delays and expenses for probate proceedings, that is just another reason why having a trust in place is important. If you already have a trust in place, now might be a good time to review its terms, make sure the trust still matches your wishes, and perhaps most importantly, take the time to fund the trust if you have not already done so.
While it is impossible to determine what will be the full effect that the COVID 19 virus will have in the economy, analysts have already warned of a significant fall in global trade and demand. The COVID 19 virus has already caused business deals to get delayed or fall apart, and contracts to go unfulfilled due to the unpredictable effects of the outbreak. We could be looking at the cause for an economic recession. One of the many different negative effects of a down economy is an increase in the number of lawsuits. In a recession, creditors get anxious, and people are more likely to file a lawsuit to recover money that they feel they are owed. For many, it means that their assets could be at risk. Fortunately, you can take steps to mitigate these risks with effective asset protection strategies. An asset protection trust can offer a strong legal bulwark against the threat of litigation regardless of tomorrow’s economic conditions.
This is just a brief overview of some of practical considerations made all the more relevant with the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. With legal matters, as with health, an ounce of prevention is often worth a pound of cure. During this time, we remain available to answer your questions during office consultations, as well as by email and phone.