Coronavirus & Estate Uncertainty – Effects on Legacy Planning & Impending Future Prospects

Future prospects of the industry

There has been a 143% week-on-week increase in the number of wills since the lockdown started, a figure that is predicted to go up to 220% soon. Before 2019, people believed that legacy planning and creating a will was only for the rich; but that trend is changing. It is now understood that anyone wanting to secure their assets and protect their family needs to have a will.

The lockdowns have resulted in heavy reliance on the internet, taking even estate planning online; something for which presence of all parties was crucial. These impacts might seem to be short-lived, or perhaps until the COVID-19 lockdowns remain, but there are chances that they might also stick around, impacting the future of the insurance industry altogether.

From financial planning to business succession and legacy planning, everything might find itself online.

Potential Future Impacts on Legacy Planning

Insurance companies that already had online systems in place faced a certain setback when they upgraded their systems, since the transition took a little while not only to get implemented but also to get used to.

However, this small setback at the time was well worth it, as those who had optimized their online infrastructure fared much better once the lockdowns began, reaping the rewards of a less-competed market. To add fuel to the fire, the market wasn’t just less-competed,but also more demanding than ever!

At the start, the market saw almost a 40% increase in demand immediately. As insurance companies took on more and more clients, the demand only increased. Financial advisors played a major role in this as well, as they asked clients with a diverse investment portfolio to create wills.

This was followed by the drops in share prices, even of shares belonging to market leaders. Case in point; Vermillion Energy Inc. (NYSE:VET).

Legacy Planning And Force Majeure – How Insurance Claims Are Being Treated During COVID-19

Force majeure means “superior force,” and is a major part of many a contract. It includes a set of events that are out of either party’s control, such as war, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, epidemics, or restraints set forth my governing authorities that may result in a claimable loss.

In the case of COVID-19, force majeure is applicable wherever government restrictions (the lockdowns) are preventing, restricting or delaying performance of any clause included within the will.

However, if the clause isn’t included in the will itself, force majeure isn’t applicable. You should advise your clients about any force majeure clauses before letting them sign a contract.

It is important to note that most insurance companies are including the clause within their contracts because of the COVID-19 situation.

The Change in Estate Planning: Helping Clients Protect Their Family & Businesses

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It is no secret that people yearn to make lives for their children and spouses easier after they’re gone. While wills are a great way of doing that, clients are shifting towards trusts as well now, seeing as how it can be the perfect way to support them financially.

A trust is like a gift from the person who passed away to those they left behind, as it takes effect immediately. It is in an intended beneficiary’s name, reducing the amount of paperwork and procedures that one needs to go through.

Furthermore, trusts can also reduce the estate tax implications and isn’t subject to challenges in probate courts as wills are, further reducing the hassle for whomever the trust is founded. Recommending a trust to your clients can go a long way towards furthering their legacy planning ventures.

However, trusts and wills are entirely different things; so make sure you have the requisite knowledge before recommending it.

As the insurance industry goes into a ‘digital’ state, there is a certain uncertainty revolving the matter of estates. Existing clients are getting antsier and new ones are also equally troubled. We recommend using online tools for now, as there are chances (because of the reduced operating costs they offer) that they are going to stick around even after the lockdown.

Legacy Armour offers a tool for insurance agents to make the most out of this online shift in the industry, offering a streamlined way of handling clients and their real estate planning. Get in touch today to learn more!

How COVID-19 Affects My Legacy Planning – Should I Revisit My Will?

Making an informed decision about your will

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!

How to Effectively Plan and Protect Your Assets; Digital and Tangible

Insurance document

What will happen to your asset after you die? This is a major concern for a large number of people. To ensure that your assets remain protected and are distributed to their legal heirs, you should effectively plan to protect your assets. And while most people do the arrangements for the protection of tangible assets, they conveniently forget to secure their digital assets. Here, we will learn how you can protect all forms of assets and secure the future of your family.

How to Protect Your Digital And Tangible Assets

1. Start Early

Bad things can happen at any time. This is why it is important to act early when it comes to making provisions for protecting your family and the estate. For effective legacy planning, you should start your search for the right insurance plans that offer proper coverage.

2. Use Retirement Accounts

While getting insurance is a good way to protect your assets, you may go with setting up retirement accounts. Federal laws offer unlimited asset protection to ERISA-qualified retirement plans. They also provide protection up to $1 million in assets in an IRA in case of bankruptcy. Find out what laws in your state say about asset protection and consider using retirement accounts.  

3. Take Care of Your Digital Assets

For a long time, assets protection was mainly restricted to tangible assets. With the digital revolution, there has been a rise in digital assets that also need to be protected. Here are some steps that you may follow to protect your digital assets:

  • Make an Inventory; The first step that you have to take in order to save your digital assets is to make an inventory of all your digital assets. Also, jot down the list of usernames and passwords that you use to access these assets. Password management applications such as LastPass can help you keep track of all your digital assets. Keep the list in a safe location and provide instructions to relevant people and explain how to access it and get into the accounts.
  • Digital Assets to Your Estate Plan; Just like your tangible assets that remain in a safe, your digital assets will remain locked and inaccessible if you don’t provide your fiduciary with detail instructions regarding what should be done with each asset. However, don’t provide your login credentials in estate documents that are read by others or else you will risk losing exposing your confidential information.
  • Service Providers’ Access-authorization Tools; In the world of social media, everyone has a designated account on different social networking sites. Many service providers such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, etc., have introduced different tools that let you designate access to someone else in case of your death.

The Final Word

Technology has been evolving rapidly, resulting in innovations of new products. Digital assets were never considered in estate planning for a long time. With time, people have started planning for the protection of digital assets as well. We hope that these few tips would help you start planning for your assets.