The COVID-19 pandemic has had deep impacts on every element of our daily lives – our insurance policies and legacy planning being no exception. Many people, be it businessmen or families, have been forced to consider ‘what ifs’ that were previously a non-issue.
As estate planning sees a surge in interest rates, words like family protection and business succession planning are being thrown around judiciously by financial advisors and insurance agents. But a question arises; is this just people being people or are these concerns actually well-founded? Should I really revisit my will?
Here, we shall explain the effects of COVID-19 on legacy planning and try to present the situation as is to help you make an informed decision.
Should I Revisit My Legacy Planning – Getting Down to Brass Tacks
A straightforward answer is “yes.” However, it’s slightly more complicated than just saying that.
Insurance companies across the globe are looking for governments and regulatory bodies for aid in these trying times, but haven’t imposed any extra costs or expenses to your estate or its planning yet. However, the “all-online” structure that the pandemic is promoting might mean that it would be smart to update your will, even if you have a solid will in place.
This might include taking it online. There are chances that the SOPs set in place during the lockdown might stick around even after the pandemic is over.
Effects of COVID-19 on Wills
As of the time of writing this, the standard rules of insurance claims in the case of someone passing away will be applicable. If you don’t have a will, an administrator will be assigned to your estate and who it is passed on to, including business succession.
However, having a will that reflects your wishes will mean that, although the process might be slightly slower, it will be the same. Since face-to-face interactions are very limited, liquidating the estate might be more hectic than normal.
It is important to note here that while nothing in terms of wills has changed, the overall value of the assets you have left for your family’s protection might not be the same. This is especially true if you wish to transfer shares to your children or spouse.
This presents an ‘unfairness’ issue, that while some might inherit more, others might end up getting less. One would think that this problem would go away once the COVID-19 situation has reverted. However, several companies are facing bankruptcy right now or are about to, which would end up rendering those shares or even your whole investment portfolio useless.
Challenges Presented by COVID-19 When It Comes to Preparing New Wills
Since the presence of lawyers, insurance agents and you yourself (depending on the situation) is necessary for the preparation of a will, the social distancing aspect has halted this process almost completely.
While governments have been called upon for a remediation of this issue, the problem is that allowing either party to not be present during the signing of the will may present a significant risk of fraud. Yet, this has resulted in the Executive Order 2020-14.
This legislation dictates that documents such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Appointments of Enduring Guardian can be witnessed and notarized online until the pandemic ensues. Following are some requirements to keep in mind:
- The audio-video connection must not be interrupted at any time. Both parties must be able to properly see, hear and communicate.
- The call should be recorded and saved for up to 3 years after it takes place.
- Signatory must state and agree to the name of the document being signed on the call.
- Each page signed or initialed must be presented clearly on the video so as to be legible.
- The signing act must be captured on video.
- A legible copy signed document in its entirety should be sent to witness(es) no later than one day after signing.
The notarization should include at least:
- Signature of the notary, their seal, title, commission and expiry.
- Any information required by law in regards to the date and place of the notarization process.
- Conform to the Notary Public Act of the state.
- There must be a clear indication of the fact that the signing and acknowledgement was done remotely.
Legacy Armour in Times of COVID-19
As a rough timeline comes into view about when all of this will be over (year-end or early 2021, based on the progress of COVID-19 vaccine), the curve is starting to rise. This means that the insurance sector as a whole has a while before it recovers from the state this pandemic has put it in.
However, Legacy Armour continues to operate online and offers quick, easy solutions to your legacy and estate planning worries. From online meetings to signing and will delivery, everything is done in a manner so as to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Furthermore, with Legacy Armour’s vaults and planning templates, your will is not only more secure and thorough but also more accessible to your family to provide you with peace of mind when it comes to family protection or business succession planning. For assistance or more on the subject, we recommend you get in touch today via call or email!