Scott Counsel PC - April 2020

www.scottcounsel.com 856-281-3131

APRIL 2020

Why You Should Create or Update Your Estate Plan NOW And What Sets Scott Counsel, PC, Apart

Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, has rapidly spread throughout the world. While it’s always important to have an estate plan in order, now more than ever is the time to either update or create your estate plan — especially if you’re over 60 years old. Seniors are at a heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus, so if you’re in this demographic, then it makes sense to be prepared for whatever happens. The last thing we want to do is scare anyone, but we do want the vulnerable members of our community to have their affairs in order. Creating or updating your estate plan can seem like a monster of a task, especially in this season of uncertainty, but don’t worry. Below is a breakdown of some of the key areas you should focus on when you review your plan with an experienced legal team. YOURWILL AND TRUST At bare minimum, you need to have a last will and testament in place should the unthinkable happen. Attorneys can use this document to pass on most of your assets to designated beneficiaries. It can also designate guardians for any minor children, as well as an executor to carry out the will’s terms. If your estate plan is a little more complicated than simply naming beneficiaries for your assets, then look into setting up a revocable trust. This will allow you to put your assets in a separate entity, where you

can put conditions and restrictions on who gets what assets and how they would receive them.

BANK AND INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS As with your assets, you should designate beneficiaries for IRAs, 401(k) plans, life insurance policies, and standard savings accounts. Many people forget to do this, and since a revocable trust may not cover them, it can create undue stress for any family members left trying to figure out what to do with those accounts. If you have not assigned beneficiaries for these accounts, then contact your financial provider. They will have the necessary forms ready to go. POWER OF ATTORNEY This part of the estate planning process might be the most important in light of the ongoing pandemic. Power of attorney forms designate trusted family, friends, or business associates as decision-makers should you become ill or incapacitated. For example, a financial power of attorney will allow someone to manage your finances on your behalf. This person can withdraw money from your accounts, pay your bills, and make court appearances for you. A health care durable power of attorney will allow someone to make health care decisions for you if you become sick and are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

question: Why should you choose Scott Counsel? Well, that’s an easy question to answer, and it very much involves what I do at our office. I am a social worker, and I work as a part of a care coordination team that includes a dementia practitioner, a neurologist, and other certified social workers. Our team’s job is to use our expertise to determine exactly what our clients’needs are and howwe can use our resources to best help them. Let me assure you: Most estate planning firms do not have a teamof experts like ours. Because of our team, we’re able to offer a level of care for our clients that can’t be beat. Aside fromour in-house expertise, we also have strong connections with care providers throughout the state. This makes it easy tomaintain relationships with our clients and update themon their situation wherever they are. I will always make myself available for my clients. You can count on me to address any needs you have.

-Christa Ciocco-Fries

Just about any estate planning attorney could help you update your estate plan, which begs this

Christa’s Corner

As a social worker for elders, I have met some really amazing people and uncovered unbelievable histories during my psychosocial assessments. At this developmental stage in an older adult’s life, they often seek meaning and purpose. They also ponder about what to leave in a will to their children or relatives. Older adults often feel like they need to leave money or property to the next generation, but I feel like a great gift to be left behind is a legacy. Having your matters in order is important, but have you ever considered a “legacy will,” where you entrust your inner wealth, your important values, worldview, life lessons, and experiences? My aunt Loretta Duckworth wrote a book about our

families’ generations of immigrants before her death that was not shared with the family until months after her passing. There were so many lessons learned and traditions adopted from those readings. She left us a legacy will. There is no amount of money or property that could measure up to those stories and connections. If you are reading this as an adult child, encourage your elder parent to leave this type of imprint. It could be a simple as a recipe, a story never told, writing, taping, illustration, or photo scrapbook about personal reflections on life experiences. If you are the elder reading this, please believe that your legacy is very powerful and a compass for generations to come.

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