By now, it is almost certain that each of us has heard of someone we know who has been afflicted with COVID-19. While for the majority of people, it is not fatal, unfortunately that is not always the case for the most vulnerable among us: our elderly and immunocompromised. Just this week alone, I have received two calls from people whose loved ones died unexpectedly—without a will. The effect of this on the family is great: not only do they have to deal with grieving during this time, but they also now have to open the probate process, something that could have been avoided if the decedent had planned ahead of time.
In one of the cases, the decedent was only 52; he was a front-line, essential worker. He owned real estate and had a wife, three children, and two step-children. He is someone who most definitely should have had an estate plan—and at the very least, a will. Now his loved ones are forced to probate the house and assets to assume control of what could have passed easily and seamlessly to them with some advance planning. Not only will probate in this situation be lengthy, but it will also be costly, much more than the cost would have been to execute a will. But more important than cost, it is an extra headache that the grieving family does not need right now.
If you know of anyone who is on the front lines in the COVID battle, please pass this information along to him or her as something to consider—for the benefit of their families. We encourage anyone who does not have an estate plan to consult a competent estate planning attorney ASAP. It is also a good time to review your own estate plan, to make sure that everything still goes where you want it to. As a service to you, Holly Lynch Law will review any estate plan at no charge from now until June 1.
Stay safe and healthy.