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  • Laura L. Van Tassel, Esq.

NJ Estate Planning and COVID-19

Protect yourself, spouse, domestic partner, children, other family members, friends, and even pets, and your finances during the coronavirus outbreak by creating an estate plan.

Let’s face it, most people do not have an estate plan and, generally speaking, most prefer to postpone or otherwise avoid the whole idea altogether.  However, not having the proper documents in place can cause numerous critical issues for a spouse, domestic partner, children, other family members, friends, and even your pets.

If this COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life and death do not get put on hold and therefore neither should planning for them. It doesn't have to be difficult, expensive, or depressing. All you need to do is take a few simple steps.

There is no “one size fits all” estate plan, even in a time of crisis. That said, a few documents that most everyone should have and keep up-to-date include the following:

Advanced Health Care Directive:  This permits you to select someone who can make health care decisions for you in the event you cannot make those decisions.  This is sometimes called a Health Care Proxy. There are various forms where you make selections as to your desires or ones that essentially give someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf.

Pre Need Guardian Designation. A New Jersey resident may designate who will serve as the guardian of their person and property if they are ever determined to be incapacitated.

Durable Power of Attorney. A New Jersey resident may delegate authority to another to act on their behalf, whether or not they are incapacitated. If you end up in the hospital because of COVID-19, you may need someone to look after your finances while you’re away to: pay bills and taxes, buy, sell, maintain, or collect rents on real estate, operate your business, represent you in court, manage your retirement accounts, and many other financial tasks. This includes designating accounts with a co-owner so that funds can be readily and quickly accessed.

Last Will and Testament, Creating a last will and testament is an important step in planning for the distribution of your real and personal property upon your death.

We are fortunate to practice in a time where we have the ability to speak and consult with clients on the telephone or by using popular video conferencing platforms. Clients are able to quickly and easily review document drafts via email. Additionally, New Jersey law allows and provides for virtual and remote will signings and notarizations. 

Lastly, I want to remind New Jersey residents who are quarantined in our homes with a bit more time on our hands, this is an ideal opportunity to put a plan in place. And for those who have already taken action to get their affairs in that order now is the time to review your documents and ensure that they are kept current.

I recognize that this is a time of great stress for our communities and the country, and I respectfully acknowledge the distress the coronavirus pandemic has caused all of us. At the same time, I find if we take a deep breath and focus on matters we can control, such as creating and /or updating our estate planning documents, we can provide some relief from the concerns that we all have.

Whether you have thoughts you need to get finalized or the situation has prompted you to change your feelings on certain matters, I’m here to help.

Contact me anytime. 201.664.8566 |


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