Estate Planning Lesson Learned from This Time of Crisis
By far, the biggest lesson COVID-19 has taught all of us in the world of estate planning is don’t wait to put your estate planning documents in place!
Over the past few months, we received many phone calls about estate planning documents. The good news was that people wanted to make sure their estate planning documents were up to date, but the bad news was that we couldn’t help them.
Why couldn’t we help? It wasn’t because we didn’t want to help, but because the restrictions put in place due to the virus didn’t allow us to bring clients into the office to sign their estate planning documents. Estate planning documents have to be signed in front of witnesses and in many cases a notary. So, the simple fact that people couldn’t gather together stopped everyone in their tracks and we couldn’t help to get updated estate planning documents put in place. (There are some options involving the remote signing of estate planning documents that will start the process of becoming legal as of July 1 but the rules associated with the process will solve this signing dilemma for only a handful of people).
Fortunately, under the current virus restrictions, we are able to now bring clients into the office to sign their estate planning documents using a social distancing compliant procedure (which for any of you who have signed your documents lately know brings an element of comic relief to the process!).
Many people are taking advantage of this opportunity to move forward with putting their new estate planning documents in place which is great. Some clients are still not able to take advantage of the social distance signing procedure because their health is still at risk, which we understand.
The troubling development is that some people seem to have lost interest in putting their estate planning documents in place because they feel the crisis has passed. This is worrisome because, in the world of estate planning, there is always a crisis lurking around the corner.
It was a heartbreaking few months when we had to tell people that we couldn’t help them despite the fear and anxiety we heard in their voices. If you have a desire to either put estate planning documents in place or make changes to your existing documents, please don’t become distracted. Continue with the process of getting these documents in place so that you can obtain the peace of mind so many people seemed to be seeking over the past few months.
Your Edwards Elder Law Team: COVID Reflections
The past few months have been a challenging time for everyone. For many of us, the primary challenge has been a disruption to life as we know it. However, for others the challenge has been dealing with the anxiety of losing a job, or not being able to see our loved one who is living in an assisted living or nursing home community, or the grief of losing a family member to this terrible virus.
In the midst of the challenge, anxiety, and sadness, many of us have also discovered that the seeds for some positive changes have been planted. These seeds can’t diminish the sadness of the losses, but they do give us something positive to cling to as we navigate these ever-changing waters.
Now more than ever, being able to focus on something positive can be a healing experience. We decided to share the positive seeds of change we have discovered over the past few months with you in an effort to bring a little positivity to your world as well.
Stephanie – Attorney
I love “To Do” lists. I get a feeling of accomplishment when I can cross something off my list. However, this time away from normal habits has shown me that I was letting my “To Do” list run my life. I kept striving to squeeze more hours into the workday so I could cross more tasks off my “To Do” list. What I have realized is that allocating more hours to the workday was robbing me of the chance to enjoy activities I love. Instead of maintaining a balance between my work life and my home life, my work life was becoming my entire life.
I am fortunate in that I love my work, but these past few months have shown me that I am a happier and more productive person if I can more successfully balance my work life with my home life. Now instead of my hobbies being at the bottom of my “To Do” list, they share equal importance with my work tasks. Over the past few months I have remembered that I love to cook, walk outside, garden, read, and get a full night of sleep!
This forced departure from my earlier routine has given me the opportunity to finally break an entrenched habit and establish a new habit. However, I know that as we ease back into the “new normal” I will face the challenge of not slipping back into my old habit. Fortunately, the second discovery I have made over the past few months is that if I start each day with a gratitude list, it is easier to remember why striving to maintain balance as my new habit is important. The simple act of listing 10 things that I am grateful for each morning gives me the desire and determination to maintain my new habit.
I don’t think anything short of this total disruption to life as we know it would have shaken up my world enough to break my old habit and launch me down the road towards this new and much more positive habit.
Susan – Probate Paralegal and Office Manager
Slowing down and being faced with unexpected challenges and changes has made me realize that I need to place more emphasis on the positive aspects in my life.
This time has re-enforced and solidified my resolution of the importance of maintaining good health by healthy eating habits and daily exercise. It has also made me realize that the most important things in life are not actually things but my family, friends and furry friends that are the dearest to my heart. It has allowed me to re-prioritize my time and energy to recognize the silver linings even in the midst of these challenging times.
Amelia – Client Services Coordinator
My eight-month-old son turns over all his wooden toys and finds anything and everything to use as a mallet to bang-bang-bang his little heart out. This is incredibly fun and also terrifying for him so he winces with every thud. These frightening actions spark curiosity and adventure for him. I think I should take a page from his book and encourage myself to learn and be inspired by what terrifies me. We can find innovation and discovery through our collective discomfort.
Candy – Marketing Coordinator
In the blink of an eye, “it” was gone. In this context, the word “it” refers to life as I knew it. No more travel, no more parties, no more classes, no more sports, no more hugs and kisses.
But a new “it” has emerged for me in the past two months and this new it has brought a change for the better, I think.
At first, I barely noticed it, strange as it seemed to uber-busy me. Then I began to lean into and accept it. And now I revel in it. For, amid all the pandemic pandemonium, I have received an amazing gift: I have learned to embrace stillness and listen to silence. These new-found traits have brought me an inner peace unknown to me before, a true blessing that I plan to keep with me as I forge headlong into the uncertain days ahead.
Words of Wisdom from Our Pets “Coexistence is Key”
Our guests for this issue bless Amelia’s family: Koko the dog, Rocket the cat, Beep Beep the finch, redfish, bluefish, and their fellow tropical fish in various tanks and bowls around the house…
The animals in my home must have had many questions running through their minds over the last two months while I was working from home. “Why don’t the servants ever leave the house anymore? Why is this happening to us? When will this end?” Koko usually moves from the living room couch to the bedroom while I run the vacuum but this level of annoyance took it to an all-time high. Rocket the cat lurked in dark corners and hallways staring with large eyeballs, probably plotting my mysterious disappearance. Beep Beep the bird was removed from her cage’s hook in the center of our home and relocated to the front porch during work-related phone calls (feeling totally shunned, I’m sure), so that I could hear the person on the other end of the line. The fish were overfed as my husband, being furloughed, was home and endlessly looking for things to do; he literally stuffed them to the gills. So, as you can see, we all have ways of adapting and coping with change.
The lesson drawn from this experience is we should remember that we must strive to coexist – not only within our own homes amid our families, but also from the perspective of being a global citizen.