It's been two months since lock down began. So far I have cleaned out my cupboards, painted my house (literally), gone through the roller coaster that is COVID-19 with my family - juggling home school, teaching my kids how to "play" online with friends, and celebrating birthdays in isolation, all while trying to work and earn a living. In the moments I have to think (which are rare) I start a list of things that I really need to get done. Things that have been on my mind for a while, but I never really had the time to complete or took the time when there was always something else that took priority. With the reality of this virus though, I find my priorities are shifting. I am re-prioritizing my life so that I take care of the things that are truly important to my family should something happen to myself or my husband. What would happen if something life-threatening were to happen to us? Few of us want to think about this, but it's something we need to address. It's times like these that bring that stark possibility to the forefront and so I reached out to a colleague who is well-respected in the estate planning field to help give us some peace of mind.
Meet Kay Walker, Estate Planning Attorney
Kay is an estate planning attorney with 25 years of practice, with offices in Newport Beach and San Juan Capistrano.
"As a graduate of Western State College of Law, my legal specialty is built on a foundation of compassion and personal experience. I am a mother of four, with aging parents, and I understand the importance of planning for you, and your family's future. While the subject can be an emotional one, I've opened my practice to help you through the process of preparing your will, trust, and estate plan with ease and precision."
Kay recognizes that emotional health is tied to well-being, and here are some tips she shared with me.
During this time of COVID-19, we are all experiencing higher stress levels than ever before. Working from home, homeschooling, and social isolation has led us all to experience increased anxiety and lowered self-confidence at times. Our family’s security is one of the priorities that many are looking at in today's uncertain world.
Here are 3 ways to reduce stress:
1. When faced with many tasks to do, make a list, and "do the worst things first." Getting the most dreaded item(s) off your list will make your day more productive and build self-esteem. (This works for your kids too.)
2. To avoid the increased risk of poor mental and cardiovascular health, work on friendships. Close friends can extend your life by as much as 10 years! I like to do "walking and talking" with friends, it will not only give you someone to talk to but some exercise too. Wear a mask if you must, but get out there!
3. Prepare for the unexpected. How will you achieve peace of mind in these uncertain times? It's times like these that we need to make sure that our wishes are carried out should something unexpected happen. I work with couples that want to feel more secure in today's environment. Finding time to put your "affairs in order" can reduce worry and anxiety about whatever the future brings.
Here are some questions to consider:
Who will make medical decisions for me if I can't?
Who will take care of my finances if I am incapacitated?
Who will care for my minor children for me?
Will there be a probate of my estate?
How will my real and personal property be distributed?
Who would have guessed 2020 would bring a pandemic? I want to make sure you have everything you need to be ready for whatever circumstances may come your way.
There are 5 main areas that you will want to address. Maybe you've already put a will or trust in place, but it is time to revisit it. Are the kids grown? Did you recently buy a house? You will want to make sure you have updated your estate plan with the following:
ADVANCED HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE. Your the one to decide who will make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. YOU choose the treatment you desire when you are unable to speak for yourself. Having this written out clearly will help minimize stress and reduces the potential conflicts between family members.
HIPAA RELEASE AUTHORIZATION. You name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your health care provider and insurance company has no reservations about sharing your protected medical information with them.
POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCES. You appoint an attorney in fact to "step into your shoes." This trusted person acts on your behalf to pay bills, sign documents, and carry on your business until you can do so yourself.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT. You name the person(s) to be the guardian of your minor children. You appoint an executor to manage the distribution of your personal and real property.
REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST. A revocable living trust will also enable you to name beneficiaries and plan the distribution of your assets, but they go a bit further. You can decide not just how, but when and in what form your estate will be distributed. Most importantly, using a living trust will avoid the time and expense of probate, protect your privacy and that of your beneficiaries and minimize estate taxes.
Did you know that many famous people have died without making a will? Among them are Abraham Lincoln, Prince, Kurt Cobain, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bob Marley. It may be difficult to consider taking time to plan, but if you don't, THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA will implement a plan for you. The State, the courts, and judges, people that do not know you or your family, will make those decisions for you.
Decide today to give yourself and your family the peace of mind you deserve.
For more information about Kay and here practice, visit https://gkaywalkerlaw.com/ or call 949-677-0956.