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Why You Need A Will in the COVID Era

As COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. eclipse 420,000 since the outbreak of the pandemic, the need for every individual to have an estate plan is top of mind.

This key piece of advice has always been around, but it’s ever more important now that many COVID deaths are happening so unexpectedly.

Whether you’re young or old, have a lot of assets or just a few, have dependents or not, and are considered healthy (or not) – it’s important to determine what will happen to your estate after you’re gone.

Not doing so – pandemic or not – can cast a heartbreaking burden on your loved ones left behind.

Read on to learn about recent COVID-era scenarios that may have been alleviated if there was an estate plan in place.

#1: Family Strife Over An Estate

MarketWatch’s The Moneyist blog recently shared this story of a woman whose mother and father died from COVID-19 within weeks of each other.

The woman writes that, prior to her parents’ unexpected deaths, they had both expressed via email that they planned to bequeath their home to her after they passed away. This occurred after the woman helped her parents pay off their house – without financial help from her three siblings.

Now that both parents have passed, one sibling is refusing to sign over her share of the house, causing a deep sibling rift. With only emails expressing her parents’ final wishes and no estate plan to execute, it is unlikely the emails will hold up in probate court.

Having a simple estate plan would have helped prevent the situation.

#2: Assets Falling Into The Wrong Hands

Another recent scenario from The Moneyist discusses a father who died from COVID-19 without a will. Subsequently, his new wife – the stepmother of his two biological daughters – attempted to shut out her stepdaughters from any claims to his estate.

Initially, they had agreed to split the man’s estate evenly. But the situation eventually reached a point where the stepmother threatened to sell prized family heirlooms if her stepdaughters did not sign over their rights to their dad’s estate.

In this scenario, even the simplest will could have helped prevent the situation.

#3: Loved Ones Experiencing Economic Hardships

A recent Forbes article highlighted 2 scenarios where a will can prevent economic hardship in the event of your untimely death. These scenarios include:

  • A newly widowed spouse with stepchildren (in a healthier familial relationship, unlike the scenario above) being mostly or completely shut-out from inheriting assets from the deceased spouse’s estate – and experiencing financial strain
  • An unmarried partner becoming widowed and the lack of an estate plan leaving him or her in an extremely difficult financial situation

COVID or not, in all of these scenarios, a basic will and estate plan can prevent financial hardship, protect dependents, and help alleviate the stress of managing assets after a loved one’s death.

Need A Will? We Can Help and It’s More Affordable Than You Think!

In our uneasy times, wills, trusts, advance medical directives, powers of attorney, and other parts of an estate plan are ever so important. At Northern Virginia Trust and Estates, we help guide you through the process of creating an estate plan that addresses your unique needs and protects your loved ones for the future. Give us a call at 703.938.3510 or contact us to get started on your estate plan today.