The sudden pandemic that has swept the globe has forced all of us to face a troubling reality and an uncertain future. The novel coronavirus poses real threats to all of us – young and old.

You may, perhaps for the first time in your life, be grappling with issues of your own mortality. While facing such issues is a sobering prospect, the events of the last few months have shown us that it is nonetheless important not to postpone.

Where should I start?

The rising health concerns in our country right now serve as a reminder that we should have plans in place – in case of a sudden health crisis that compromises our decision-making ability, or even our life. A comprehensive estate plan should include the following:

  • Last will and testament – outlining your wishes for property distribution after you pass
  • Advance health care directive (also known as a living will) – describing your wishes for medical treatment if you become seriously ill
  • Designations of financial and health care powers of attorney – assigning trusted individuals to make financial and health-related decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated
  • HIPAA waiver – an additional fail-safe measure to ensure the release of your medical records to your nominated agents

Can I create an estate plan remotely?

In previous posts, we have discussed the benefits of using a lawyer to create an estate plan – rather than attempting to use do-it-yourself tools online. But during this unprecedented time, social distancing guidelines have put limits on many in-person interactions. What accommodations can be made in this case?

Under normal circumstances, North Carolina law requires many estate planning documents to be witnessed and notarized in person. However, in light of the pandemic, North Carolina’s recent omnibus pandemic legislation permits the use of remote notarization by video conferencing until March 1, 2021. This deadline could be extended, due to the fluidity of the health situation.

The pandemic has forced us all to adapt to an unsettling reality. While no one wants to prepare for a worst-case scenario, it is nonetheless worthwhile to use this situation as an opportunity to make plans that are ultimately necessary for anyone. Taking such steps early on ensures that you and your family will be cared for according to your wishes – no matter what.