This is the next post in a series of articles discussing how estate planning may help Hartford, Connecticut residents during the COVID-19 crisis. Our previous article discussed how Healthcare Powers of Attorney and Living Wills can help loved ones if an individual becomes sick or incapacitated. Designating someone to help make medical decisions on your behalf and expressing your wishes for health care treatments in advance can decrease the burden on family and friends in the event of an unforeseen illness. In this article, we will address the importance of creating an estate plan, particularly in these unprecedented times. While most of us will not become seriously ill during the pandemic, preparing for the future can provide much-needed peace of mind. If you need assistance with estate planning, contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
Previously in this series, we discussed what happens to one’s assets and liabilities, should a Hartford resident pass away without a Last Will and Testament. As mentioned in that article, Connecticut law establishes the procedures and laws by which a person’s debts will be paid and remaining assets distributed amongst their legal heirs. The state may also determine guardianship for minor children if necessary. This process can, for obvious reasons, be inconsistent with one’s wishes and may be painful for one’s friends and family. Depending upon the size of the estate, it can result in a lengthy and expensive probate process and leave loved ones without access to much-needed finances or assets until resolved.
It is, however, possible to bypass much of the aforementioned process and avoid unintended hardships on one’s family by creating an estate plan. A plan may include a Last Will and Testament, Powers of Attorney, both for financial and healthcare purposes, and, depending upon one’s objectives, a Living Trust, Irrevocable Trust, or other planning documents. Many residents believe that only wealthy individuals have estate plans. This is not the case. Wills, for example, memorialize a person’s wishes concerning the distribution of their property and often name guardians for minor children. Young parents, for instance, who may not have accumulated significant assets, may still wish to have control over who will raise their children should the unexpected occur. It is also possible to create trust documents to help avoid the probate process altogether. Through a Trust, one appoints a trustee to manage finances for a definitive time period. For example, one can provide for the well-being of minor children until they reach adulthood, one can provide for certain charitable goals, or one can prepare for long-term elder care needs. Generally speaking, the trustee will be given control of the assets quickly without being subject to probate, allowing them to handle the decedent’s affairs in accordance with their instructions. An experienced estate planning attorney can review your goals and objectives and recommend the type of estate planning documents that may be right for you.
It is always important to be prepared for the unexpected. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to consider your estate planning needs. Doing so will help ensure that your wishes are honored and that your loved ones are protected after your death. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak to a Hartford lawyer. We also service the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.