The Most Important Legal and Financial Actions You Can Take Right Now

Not Business As Usual

What we have learned over the past 3 weeks is that the COVID-19 pandemic means nothing is normal. There is NO business as usual. Finally, state after state has implemented a “shelter-in-place” order in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease; still every day we come across people and populations who are not following the mandate.

Once you have attended to your needs, the needs of your children and your parents’ immediate needs, it will be time to consider more long term precautions.

In this time of stress and chaos, many people continue to be resistant to talking about estate planning. It may feel too pessimistic to plan for the worst in the midst of a scary situation. However, that’s exactly why it’s the most important time to do so. Plus, since hopefully, you are staying inside, you now have the time to get these tasks taken care of.

Here are actions you can, and should, take to ensure you and your family are protected both legally and financially.

Update Your Health Care Documents

Above all, you first need to ensure that both you and your parents have advance care directives. This will be an invaluable reference point for those who are assisting you, whether they be friends, family, or medical professionals. This directive should include instructions on your preferred methods of care and the contact information for each of your doctors.

Review and Update Who Speaks for You When You are Unable to Speak for Yourself

You must also clearly state who will be in charge of handling your affairs in the event of your death or incapacity. Even if you have done this already, I urge you to take out any existing documents now and review them. Have your circumstances changed? Do you have additions to make? Encourage your parents to do the same thing, and to communicate with you about what their directives say.

Here’s an article to read, and share with your parents (AND ADULT KIDS, if you have them) on the 3 parts of a Health Care Directive, and the 5 things you want to look for in your Health Care Directive right now, to ensure it’s up to date for COVID-19.

If you are unsure whether your Health Care Directive is in ship-shape, call us, as your Personal Family Lawyer®, to take an expert look at them.

Create a “Personal Resource Map”—an Inventory of Everything That Matters

You might think that only the very rich need to worry about making specific plans for their assets. But not so fast. Do you have investments or a retirement account? Physical things like jewelry, musical instruments, or furniture? What about crypto? Or even social media accounts? In the event of your incapacity or death, your family members won’t know where to look for what you have, or how to access it, unless you’ve planned for that ahead of time.

Somewhere between 49 and 80 billion dollars are currently unclaimed, or unable to be claimed, by family members of people who have passed away. This is money that individuals may have forgotten they had, or that they made no provisions to pass on to their family after they died. That’s why it’s extra important that you create a “personal resource map” to tell your loved ones where everything is and how they should move forward according to your wishes.

To help you make your own personal resource map, and to help your parents make theirs, you can go to http://www.personalresourcemap.com/ or call us direct and we’ll walk you through it.

Wisely Maximize Your Access To and Use of Credit

Financial experts often recommend a rainy day savings account, and it seems that the rainy day has come. Whether or not you have sizable savings, you should also maximize your access to credit. Getting approved for a higher credit line is good to do sooner rather than later. If you find yourself in a position where you need money quickly (to afford a medical expense, for instance), you don’t want to be scrambling to pay the bill.

Some people might balk at the idea of applying for more personal credit, particularly people who are afraid of debt. Think of it, however, as a worst-case precaution. You can get approved for credit even if you have a decent amount of savings—just as a backup. If you need reassurance, or if you need some help encouraging your parents to get approved for a higher credit line, you can contact us to walk you through your options.

Remember that it’s never an inappropriate time to plan for the future. It’s also always a good time to ask for legal and financial help. #WereAllInThisTogether and we’re here to support you, virtually now, as well, even when nothing is normal. We can take care of you, and your family, fully online. Call us, we’re here.

This article is a service of Cris Carter Law, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge. Or, schedule online here.

Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness, Time for Emergence and Growth

“It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance, creativity, and joy that lie at our core.” ― Thomas Moore

April is usually a sign that spring is here. A time of emergence and growth. Yet we find ourselves confined in our homes. Unable to see the ones we love. Separated by something we cannot see. Something we cannot touch. Feeling numb, hidden, unseen.

April also symbolizes the process of coming into view. Becoming. What was hidden is exposed after being concealed. The process of coming into being. April provides the gust that spring needs to bloom and flourish.

Perhaps what we are living through, the stillness, is giving us the opportunity to sit, listen, and see. Listen to what our soul has been trying to tell us. Look and see the things that we have buried behind the busyness of life. It is a time for us to look at the things in our life that we have been putting on hold.

Whatever you do, don’t assume all is lost. We have heard many times that it is never too early to plan for your future. However, the sooner you can have an estate plan in place, the better it is for you and your family. If there is one thing that we have learned from the Corona Virus is that nothing is certain. It may never be too early to plan, but it can be too late.

If you do not have ANY estate plan at all before something happens to you, whether that be a serious illness or death, your family will end up in court and the court will choose the people that will handle tying up all the loose ends. How your estate gets distributed will be based upon the general laws in effect. Depending on your family structure, it may or may not be what you would have chosen for your loved ones. If you only have a Last Will and Testament and (not a Trust), your estate will also wind its’ way through the court system.

Going to court is expensive and the money pair for court and lawyers comes straight out of the pockets of those loved ones left behind. And of course, the time and energy it takes for your loved ones to deal with the court process, may be way more stress than they can manage at a delicate time. Only an estate plan with a trust will keep your loved ones out of court, confusion, and conflict.

During this pandemic, we want to make sure you and your family are taken care of. We have gone to virtual meetings to ensure you still have access to our services whenever you need them. We want to help you make informed and empowered decisions and feel protected in times of need. It is all about making sure your plan works for you and the people you love.

At Cris Carter Law, we have gone virtual to protect you and your loved ones. Just like the promise of growth and bounty that comes after planting seeds in the spring, planning your legacy now, promises protection for your loved ones when you are gone.

It isn’t comfortable or easy to talk about the necessity of planning. Yet what planning has to offer your loved ones is far deeper and greater than any discomfort.

At Cris Carter Law, we are here for you. We want to know you. We want to know what matters to you. Together we spend time and focus on what is most important to you and your family. We will guide you as we create the estate plan that aligns with your objectives and will be there for your family when they need it the most. Call us today to set up your virtual appointment.

Our hope is that you will look for the light in the darkness. The light that will teach us a new way to care. A new way to laugh. A new way to love. A new way to live. The darkness prepares us for what is to come. Together, we hope for a new tomorrow.

“During the dark night, there is no choice but to surrender control, give in to unknowing, and stop and listen to whatever signals of wisdom might come along. It’s a time of enforced retreat and perhaps unwilling withdrawal. The dark night is more than a learning experience; it’s a profound initiation into a realm that nothing in the culture, so preoccupied with external concerns and material success, prepares you for.” Thomas Moore

This article is a service of Cris Carter Law, the attorney with a heart. We don’t just draft documents; we guide you to make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love so that your estate plan works when it needs to. Call today and schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.