Attorney Suzanne Sayward talks about avoiding probate for our new Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. What is Probate and how does it work and why do you want to avoid it? Please watch and if you have questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Lynne Abbe discusses the curbside signing process for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Are you not sure what to expect when it comes to signing your documents curbside? If you have questions please call us and let us know at 781 461-1020.
Attorney Julia Abbott answers the question “What is an Estate Plan?” for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Did you have an estate plan? Are you prepared? If you have any questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Like so many of you, I am connecting with friends and family by telephone and videoconference to maintain my sanity and do my best to stay at home for the safety of our vulnerable community members and frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a few of my calls, I have noticed that some of my friends and family are now thinking about creating a legacy plan or updating their estate plan along with other things they wish they had done before the pandemic. Luckily, it is not too late to accomplish many of those things, and hopefully it is simply a matter of time and patience before they can do the others. Here are a few of the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) things my friends and family have mentioned they wish to have done before the pandemic:
1. Prepare Estate Planning Documents
Several family members and friends are using the pandemic as the impetus to take their estate plan out, brush off the dust, and review it to confirm it reflects their current family circumstances and wishes for their legacy. Others are creating an estate plan for the first time. Regardless of which situation applies to you, it is important that you have the basic “don’t leave home with them” documents in place. You should have a Power of Attorney that appoints a person to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Likewise, a Health Care Proxy that names an individual to make health care decisions if you are unable to do so yourself is imperative. A HIPAA Authorization form, which allows the people you name on it to receive medical information about you is particularly relevant, too. Lastly, a Last Will and Testament that appoints a person to manage your assets and distribute them according to your wishes is a must have for most people, and remember -where there is a will, there is a way!
2. Discuss Wishes with Agents and Family Members
Let’s face it – thinking about your own demise can be saddening, depressing, scary and difficult. Talking about it can be even more so. However, the pandemic is causing many of my family members and friends to think seriously about their wishes in case they become ill and do not recover. They are having conversations with or providing written instructions to the individuals appointed in their estate planning documents (their agents) and family members about what they would want to happen in the event they become incapacitated or pass away. One way to ease into the conversation is to create a list of resources that you want your family to reach out to if you fall ill or pass away, such as care management agencies, attorneys, rehabilitation centers, or funeral homes you favor. Doing so may give you a sense of control during these uncertain times and the peace of mind that you, your family, and your estate will be taken care of the way you intend if something happens.
3. Be Prepared: Maintain a Well-Stocked Pantry (and Other Useful Non-perishables – Toilet Paper, Anyone?)
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being prepared for the unexpected and emergencies. One way to be prepared is to maintain a supply of items you consider necessities as best you can. I have a much greater appreciation now for readily available toilet paper, hand soap, cleaning supplies, flour and yeast. Beyond pantry items and cleaning items, basic medical supplies such as gloves, masks, bandages, antibiotic ointment, medication, etc. are clearly helpful to have on hand. Of course, it is important to thoughtfully collect items – keep in mind to purchase only what you require as other people likely need them, too.
Consider what estate planning and legal documents should be accessible to family members, designate a location for the documents and share the location with your family members and/or friends. Perhaps keep electronic copies of your legal documents available on your cell phone or a USB drive. Remember to share a copy of your health care proxy (paper and/or electronic) with your named health care agent(s).
Another way to be prepared is to consider having a “go bag” with essentials you might need in case you have to leave your home suddenly, and/or a family member or friend needs to assist you at home because you are ill. For example, keep toiletries, clothing, copies of relevant legal documents, an extra cell phone charger, and entertainment materials in the go bag.
4. Embrace Social Events (and Family and Friends!) More Often
Continue to use this opportunity to spend time with family members and friends in innovative ways – virtual game nights, virtual family yoga sessions, or simply sharing your favorite books, movies or television shows with each other. Think about the activities you did in the past that you look forward to enjoying in the future. For example, some of my friends wish they had swum more often and plan to make time for swimming at their community pool once that is possible again. Other friends wish they had traveled and explored new places more, whether by visiting a festival in a nearby town, camping in another state, or hiking ancient ruins in a country halfway across the world.
Once the pandemic is over, say yes to invitations and events, no matter how big or small. And give and get hugs! In short, engage and embrace your loved ones and living life fully again.
5. Remember That You Are A Member of A Community
One of my friends remarked that she wishes she had paid more attention to the news. Her insightful comment illuminates the larger message that is currently being heard far and wide: we are all connected and in this together. Invest some time in being an observant, active and considerate participant in your town, state, country and the world, and leave a legacy of kindness. Listen or watch local and international news and contribute when and where you are able. There are countless examples of people helping others by delivering groceries to elderly neighbors to musicians sharing hopeful songs on social media. How can you safely help others?
I hope you are finding productive and helpful (and enjoyable) ways to manage the “new normal” caused by the pandemic. Whether you are taking this time to focus on your estate plan and preparedness, or discussing the serious and silly stuff with family and friends, or helping others, please be safe and well.
Attorney Abigail V. Poole is an associate attorney with the Dedham firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. She is an active member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit www.ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.
© 2020 Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC
Attorney Abigail Poole discusses young adults and the Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Did you know that when a child turns 18 that parents loose the right to make financial and healthcare decisions for them? If you have any questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
News from Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC for April 2020 includes the articles: Samuel, Sayward & Baler is Still Operating, Just A Little Differently, Imaginative and Unique Estate Planning Provisions, Five More Important Numbers to Know When Applying for Long-Term Care Medicaid Benefits, Start Your Spring Housecleaning With Some Estate Planning, Resources for Challenging Times, Put Your Estate Plan on Your To Do List, and What’s New at Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC.
For those of you hoping to sign your estate plan documents from the comfort of your home, we have some good news to report. After weeks of hard work by a number of Massachusetts attorneys including our own Abigail Poole, we finally have a law that will allow notaries to acknowledge signatures via video conference. On Monday, Governor Baker signed the Virtual Notarization Act into law, a temporary measure effective only during and for three days after the current COVID-19 state of emergency. This law permits attorneys (or paralegals under the supervision of attorneys) to notarize estate planning and real estate documents remotely using video conferencing, without being in the physical presence of those signing the document.
There are many technical requirements that must be followed in order for the document to be validly notarized, including:
- the signers must state on the video that they consent to the session being recorded
- the notary and all witnesses must observe the signing via video conference
- all parties be physically located in Massachusetts at the time of the signing
- the signers must disclose who is in the room with them and provide visual evidence on the video of everyone who is physically present in the room with the signers
- the signers must present their identification to the Notary during the video session and must send a copy of that identification to the Notary
- the video conference must be recorded and retained for 10 years
- the documents being notarized must contain special language stating that they were notarized in this manner
- a separate affidavit be completed and signed by the Notary regarding the session
- the documents must be returned to the Notary for notarization before they are complete and effective
- real estate documents signed in this manner require a second video conference between the Notary and the signer after the documents are received by the Notary before they can be validly notarized.
Although we are happy to have this option for clients who are unable to leave their homes or do not wish to do so, our curbside signings – variously referred to as “Car Hop” signings or “Wills on Wheels” – are also a popular and efficient way to sign documents in this time of physical distancing.
Maria Baler, Esq. is an estate planning lawyer and elder law attorney and partner at Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC, a law firm based in Dedham. She is also a former director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA), and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Forum of Estate Planning Attorneys. For more information, please visit www.ssbllc.com or call (781) 461-1020. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney.
© 2020 Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC
Attorney Maria Baler discusses Advance Directives, Living Wills and MOLSTs for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. What happens if you get sick and can’t make decisions for yourself? If you have questions please call us for a consultation at 781 461-1020.
Attorney Suzanne Sayward discusses The Impact of the SECURE Act and the CARES Act on retirement accounts for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Did you know that this year you don’t need to take the minimum distributions. If you have questions or want to learn more please call us at 781 461-1020.
Client Services Coordinator, Jennifer Poles discusses the firm’s scheduling process for our Smart Counsel for Lunch Series. Jennifer is usually the first person you will speak with when it comes to scheduling. If you have questions please call us and let us know at 781 461-1020.