Coronavirus and the Importance of Estate Planning

There has never been a more vital time to make sure that your estate planning is up-to-date. It is important that there are provisions for your loved ones, if you are struck down by Covid-19.

Proper planning is important for a number of reasons.

First, the risk to many people’s health posed by the spread of the coronavirus is significant. Other countries have already experienced significant numbers of deaths, including of people who were otherwise fit and healthy. Having an up to date will ensures that, even if the worst were to happen, your estate would pass in the way that you want. Having no will, or a will that is no longer appropriate, may cause significant difficulties for family members, friends and other chosen beneficiaries and even result in your assets passing to those whom you do not wish to benefit.

Similarly, powers of attorney and appointments of enduring guardian will protect you in the event of you losing capacity and being unable to make your own financial or healthcare/lifestyle decisions. Given the number of people who have been hospitalised by Covid-19 – even those who have subsequently made a full recovery – it is essential that these documents are in place and up to date.

Second, the economic impact of the coronavirus may expose many people – including your loved ones – to unemployment, financial stress, or even bankruptcy. If a beneficiary of your will is an undischarged bankrupt at the time you die or is bankrupted at some point afterwards, anything you leave him or her will be lost to the trustee in bankruptcy. A specialist estate planner can advise you on strategies to protect your beneficiaries, such as with testamentary trusts.

Covid-19 has understandably caused untold levels of anxiety amongst the population. A meeting with an estate planning lawyer to discuss your will, power of attorney, appointment of enduring guardian and death benefit nomination for your super can provide you with some peace of mind that if the worst happens, your wishes will be honoured.

Somerville Legal’s wills and estates team, led by Law Society Accredited Specialist Stephen Lynch, is available to meet with you at any time – including by telephone or video conference. For an appointment, call us on 99232321 (North Sydney office) or 49278077 (Newcastle office).

 

Click here to read our article on signing wills and other estate planning documents in a time of social distancing.

 

 

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