COVID-19 Highlights Very Big Misconceptions About What “Estate Planning” Means And How It Impacts The People You Love

I’ve struggled with how to approach posting about COVID-19. I’m deeply saddened (as we all are) by the toll this virus will have on human life. It’s difficult to fathom the overall impact of this global trauma. While there have been many posts that are trying to lighten the mood, I think it’s important to acknowledge that IT IS OK to feel the negative emotions as well.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories that could have been prevented or mitigated through estate planning– tragedies related to healthcare decisions or families not having access to important healthcare information. 

Thousands have now died, and I can’t help but fear how many of those thousands died without leaving behind Wills or Trusts.  Now, their families, who are already dealing with the extraordinary grief of unexpected loss, will be forced to deal with the additional stress and anxiety of administering an unprepared estate. 

I’m not writing this to be fear-mongering or to try to scare anyone into hiring a lawyer. I’m writing because there are very big misconceptions about what the phrase “estate planning” means and how it impacts the people you love. I’m hellbent on dispelling the misinformation.  

See, as a law firm focusing on estate planning, frankly, death is what we talk about, COVID or not. Talking about death doesn’t have to be morbid or scary. And preparing for death IS NOT something reserved for the ultra-rich, those over age 80, people with “traditional families” or when we are in the midst of a health crisis. 

In truth, you may never fully experience the impact of your estate plan– but your planning (or lack thereof) can have a HUGE impact on the lives of the people you love the most. Unfortunately, for so many families, this crisis has highlighted why I’m so passionate about my work and why I always work to dispel the misconceptions around what “estate planning” really means. 

I help clients answer the question, “What will happen for the people you love when something happens to you,” according to the law.

Although this question may seem difficult to think about, my passion is to bring education and awareness to the fact that EVERYONE should know the answer to this question for themselves. Every scenario is different, the laws in each state are different, and if you have no plan in place, you may not like the answer to how the law says your situation will be handled. 

“Estate Planning” is SO MUCH MORE than dealing with taxes or drafting a Will. At a minimum estate planning should include:

  •  Preparing for end-of-life healthcare decisions 
  •  Preparing to have someone you trust to manage your house, business, and life if you are incapacitated 
  •  Planning for who will care for your children and how they will be raised 
  •  Authorizing those you trust and love to have access to your healthcare information or to make healthcare decisions on your behalf 

 If you don’t know What will happen” if you become sick, incapacitated, or when you die, you deserve a trusted legal advisor to educate and guide you to decide what’s best for you and your family.  Above all, you should know “estate planning” is important. Not just now in this trying time, but always. It truly impacts the lives of the people you love the most in a very REAL WAY. 

Of course, none of us want to think about the worst-case scenario. But avoiding this preparation to spare yourself in the short-term, only transfers that burden to the people you love during one of their most trying times. So why not get started right now? JUST DO SOMETHING to help your family be better prepared for the worst. 

 Even if you are not ready to start developing an estate plan, there are some simple steps you can take to get yourself more organized, for the benefit of the people you love.  I’ve put together a short series of posts to give you some steps you can take RIGHT NOW, by yourself, without the help of a lawyer, to help you start the process of getting a little more prepared. Follow the series to get simple steps. 

If you are ready to get organized and get educated about what will happen for you and your family, I’m ready to help. My planning process  is completely virtual these days to keep everyone safe. Give me a call or book your Life & Legacy Planning Session to get started. 

Please stay safe, healthy, and keep those you love close (even if it’s via facetime).  

Jeneva A. Vazquez, Principal Attorney

La Strada Law