By Evan Smith for The Island Eye News
Everyone has heard some version of this a million times: “Get your estate planning documents and powers of attorney in order now.” You hear it from your financial advisor, your doctor, your son who wants the vintage Corvette and anyone else who knows that you have yet to do these things.
That directive is certainly easy to say, but it can often be a daunting task for a myriad of reasons.
Few people want to think long and hard about their ultimate demise.
Many do not want to face considering favoring one loved one over another.
Others do not want to take the time to sift through their earthly assets and discuss their disposition with a lawyer. Some assume that it will all work itself out anyway.
These are all reasonable and logical alibis. However, everyone who is making these excuses and delaying their planning should consider the great impact of becoming seriously ill or passing without these documents in place. Consider the anguish that your spouse, children and other loved ones will have to face if they are left guessing about what to do. Consider the great strain of time, money and energy on your family if they must sort through your estate with only a guess about how to best serve your legacy. Consider the scramble to pay for and plan the funeral that you have told them you want. The work you do now will be critical in helping to avoid possible probate difficulties, family infighting and litigation.
The COVID-19 pandemic should provide the impetus for you to act now.
It is time to listen to the advisors and schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney as soon possible. If you already have documents in place, you need to locate them, review them and see if revisions are necessary – very often they are as your family, property and laws evolve. It is your life and legacy, and you can continue to control it during illness and after death.
Do not think that you must wait until the pandemic goes away. Modern technology has greatly advanced your ability to prepare and execute documents within the legal requirements. In most cases, only a single, properly executed in-person meeting is necessary to accomplish the necessary steps.
Hopefully, the South Carolina courts will listen to our pleas to make it even easier as the pandemic drags on. You deserve to make these critical choices and to keep your family and friends from having to do so without direction from you.
So, get your safe deposit box or fireproof safe, gather your critical documents and make that call now. Your life and legacy depend on it.