As the days of isolation and social distancing pass, we are stopping more frequently to think not only about the well-being of our families and close friends, but also about our social and professional circle, how our clients, acquaintances, commercial partners, etc., are facing this situation.
We also do not stop thinking about their preparedness and what will they do if the unthinkable happens; especially if one of them needs hospitalization and his or her family cannot have a say or make decisions about their medical treatment, or cannot be by their side during such situation.
Last week we wrote about how you can begin self-preparing for such situation by completing statutory advanced healthcare directives and powers of attorney which we made available for those that do not want or do not have time to consult an attorney.
Disadvantages of Wills
However, the preparation for the pandemic cannot, and should not, stop with the completion and signing of some forms. As you well know, the great majority of state governments have issued and implemented contingency plans to minimize the impact of COVID-19 which include closing, or in certain cases, the reduction of hours of operation of the different courts and the access to judicial proceedings, such as probate claims.
This means that if the worst happens and in the best of cases you only have a will—which is better than nothing, the access to bank accounts and control of your business by your heirs will be delayed indefinitely until the courts open their doors again or until their hours of operation return to normal—which very likely will not be for several months.
Advantages of Living Trusts
To avoid this risk, it is necessary to have at least a living trust so that the trustee is who administers and/or distributes those bank accounts or the control of the business to the beneficiaries in a much shorter period of time and faster than having to file a probate claim and having to wait for the court’s final resolution.
However, contrary to what happens with the availability of pre-established forms for statutory advanced healthcare directives and powers of attorney, for the preparation of a will or living trust it is necessary that you consult with an estate planning attorney that can guide and advise you in reaching your objectives.
For those that are foreign citizens or are resident aliens in the U.S., with or without permanent residency or green card, you must consult with an international estate planning attorney with expertise in this type of situation or cases because the estate tax rules and laws are not identical to those applicable to U.S. citizens.
For those that have questions or concerns, or if you know anyone who does, you can call us at (800) 694-6604 to schedule a 30-minute phone o videoconference consultation. As a technology-driven law firm, MEG International Counsel is able to work with you remotely, especially when everyone is trying to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. The cost of the initial consultation is $250. As always, the cost of the initial consultation will be credited to the final legal fee if you end up hiring us.