The coronavirus pandemic has, in less than 4 months, swept the globe. Economies were brought to a sudden and grinding halt and the recovery is slower than expected. Even the best-prepared health systems were flooded with thousands of cases and the results continue to be devastating in many countries.
The restrictions caused by the pandemic led to immense changes to how we work. Companies and organizations across the country started to implement work from home programs for their employees. Public institutions closed their offices and relied heavily on their online presence.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus strain, has mild symptoms in the majority of cases. Currently, the rate of death is estimated at 3.4 percent, according to the World Health Organization. However, recent data gathered by the health authorities in the United Kingdom has shown that the mortality rate is far lower, hovering around 0.5 to 1.0 percent. The elderly and people suffering from other chronic medical conditions are at a far greater risk of dying from the new type of infection.
Despite the serious issues caused by the pandemic and the restrictions imposed by state and local authorities, estate planning attorneys have seen an important surge of new clients looking to put in place estate plans, trusts, wills, testaments, and powers of attorney documents. Some practices have seen a 300 percent rise in interest during this period. People are interested in various types of legal services, including asset management, estate planning, and living trust asset protection. The reasons for this huge spike in interest are multiple. Mainly, people have more time during this period and want to get their personal matters solved in case anything bad happens. They want to have peace of mind and want to know that their loved ones, but also their assets, are properly taken care of.
Wills, testaments, and powers of attorney
There's no denying that many people are looking to put in place their succession planning or want to make revisions to already existing estate plans. Unfortunately, updating wills and testaments is often towards the bottom of most people's list of priorities. We often postpone making a will or changing an existing one, and it's not surprising. However, this difficult period changed people's priorities. Many people, coming from all social backgrounds, are increasingly paying attention to their wills and testaments. Powers of attorney and living trust asset protection plans are also becoming popular during this period and are often included in the estate plan.
According to estate planning attorneys, wills are the simplest estate planning documents you can have. They can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Even the simplest will can offer a lot of protection for your assets, especially if it's correctly drafted. For many people, especially for those who don't have many assets, a will may be all that is required in terms of estate planning. Unfortunately, even though wills are fairly easy and cheap to make, estimates show that about 40 percent of all adults in the United States don't have one. This means that their family will face a lot of uncertainty if something bad happens to them.
Clients who are looking for increased protection are advised to have a power of attorney document in place. This document is extremely important if you become incapacitated following an accident or disease, such as COVID-19. Although powers of attorney documents are usually put in place by high-net-worth clients, the document is extremely useful for any client who wants extra protection.
Trusts are ideal for clients who want to get full protection for their assets and loved ones. They are complex legal documents that include provisions regarding asset protection, asset distribution and other important aspects. Trusts can be made by any client, regardless of the number of assets and the size of the estate. Always talk to your estate planning attorneys before starting the process, as there are many legal aspects to cover and understand.
Demand for trusts has increased tremendously during this period, as clients are beginning to understand the importance of excellent asset protection. This is especially true for clients who have large estates, many complex assets, and extended families. For instance, a trust is the best way to protect your business, in case something bad happens to you. You will be able to include provisions in order to help your business continue expanding even after you pass away. Although some clients, particularly the wealthy, are reluctant when it comes to trusts, the benefits are enormous. The increased market volatility, complex tax regulations, and other financial issues are having a negative impact on how potential clients see and understand trusts. Fortunately, some clients understand the advantages and are looking to either create new trusts or adapt an existing one in order to enjoy the benefits. The key is to include adequate trust asset protection plans and explain every step of the process. Obviously, trusts should be drafted by professional estate planning lawyers who understand their clients' needs.
Estate lawyers during the pandemic
The lockdown had devastating effects on the legal field. Fortunately, as restrictions are lifted, the activity in this sector is expected to recover. Although the recovery may be slow, courts are reopening, filing documents are allowed again and legal professionals are returning to their offices. Also, regulators, registrars, consultants, and other specialists are getting back to work, so legal service is expected to return to normal in a matter of weeks.
Although we will still have to live with the pandemic and its negative effects, there are new issues that need to be addressed. Estate planning is one of the core issues that need handling, especially during this difficult period. The need for quality services will remain high, as more and more clients are looking for professional legal services. The complexities that each client faces and their unique circumstances remain unchanged, even though we go through tough times. Business as usual... even during unusual times…
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