For many people, 2020 has been a year of triage. Adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and all that it has meant – including illness, job loss, transitioning to remote work, and homeschooling children—has made planning for the future seem like a luxury. When you're barely surviving, who has time to think about someday things like estate planning?
But the reality is that there has never been a better, or more necessary, time to plan for the future. And as much as no one wants to think about it, the pandemic also reminds us why it's important for the sake of our loved ones that we take the time to plan.
So how can you plan for your estate when you're working long hours from home, while also supervising your child's distance learning and checking in on your aging parents? The same way you conquer any intimidating task: bit by bit and with a little help from technology. Here are 5 tips for tackling your estate plan right now.
- Break it into smaller tasks. Estate planning can be overwhelming when you think of everything that needs to be done. But you don't have to do it all at once. Set a deadline for when you'd like to have it all done-- maybe that's a month from now or three months, or six months. Set mini-deadlines for each task. Tell yourself that each week you will accomplish one thing by end of the week. The first week, you could set the goal of creating a health care directive. The second week, you could focus on researching and purchasing life insurance, and so forth. Keep moving forward by accomplishing each task on the schedule you set and by the time you get to your big deadline, all the work will be done.
- Treat Yourself. You're human, that means you like rewards. It's easier to slog through something you're dreading when you know there's a prize waiting for you at the end. So, do something nice for yourself after you finish each of the tasks you set out to accomplish in step one. Depending on what motivates you, your reward could be something small like going out for ice cream, or something larger, like buying something you've been eyeing online.
- Plan for Your Children While You're with Them. If you have children, you're probably used to not having much time to yourself. But thinking about what you'd like to happen to your children in your absence is something you can ponder while you're watching them play. Do you have enough life insurance? Who would you like to be responsible for your children's care? Do you have any specific childcare wishes? Sometimes the answers to these questions are easiest to see when your child is with you.
- Take Advantage of Technology. Yes, COVID-19 has forced us all to be home a lot more than we used to be, but it's not all bad. A lot of law offices, like ours, now offer virtual consultations and client meetings. That means that even if you are stuck overseeing your third grader's online art class, you can schedule a meeting with a lawyer anyway – and you won't even have to sneak out of the office or request PTO.
- While You're Stuck at Home. This has been a year of significantly less travel and less commute while working from home for most people. It's been a year of no parties, fewer places to go, and lots of time at home. Use that to take inventory of your estate. You don't have to do it all once. Make a list of your personal property - things like jewelry, antiques, and collections. Then make a list of your financial accounts and their approximate balances. You'll also want to make lists of real estate holdings, vehicles, and any other valuables.
Yes, 2020 has been a challenging year, and it's easy to get stuck in a rut of just getting by from day-to-day, but even with the challenges, life hasn't stopped. You still need to have a plan for your estate and you can still have one.
Contact us today at 510-527-6774 to schedule your online, phone, or in-person meeting so you can get started on your estate plan and be one step closer to peace of mind.