The pandemic has led to the loss of lives around the world. In fact, there are about five million deaths worldwide due to the COVID-19 infection.
As death can strike anyone amid the crisis, one must consider setting estate planning in place. In fact, the pandemic has led to the rise of estate planning. Many individuals wrote a will due to the COVID-19 crisis.
When it comes to estate planning, it’s vital to know the whole probate process. Understanding this process helps you decide on what steps to take related to your death or that of your loved one. As such, you can consider writing a will, designating a healthcare surrogate, or assigning power of attorney (POA).
That said, here’s what you need to know about probate during the pandemic:
What probate is and how it works
In a nutshell, probate is the legal process of distributing your assets to the right people in the event of your death. The process involves reviewing your estate (including your property, finances, and investments) and determining the inheritors of these assets. The probate court gives the final ruling on the division and distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
For the most part, probate focuses on the existence of a will. The court appoints the executor written on the will to administer the probate. If there’s no written will, the court appoints an administrator to facilitate the probate. The process entails collecting all your assets, covering your liabilities, and distributing the remaining assets to your beneficiaries.
Probate with or without a will
It’s crucial to understand how the probate process works, whether you have a will or not. Take note of the following:
- With a will: With a will in place, there are three key players involved. First is the testator, as the deceased person who wrote the will itself. The second is the executor, as the person tasked to initiate the probate process. The last are the beneficiaries who will get all the assets according to the will.
- Without a will: Without a will, a person dies in intestacy. Under intestacy, it’s the court’s responsibility to determine the distribution of assets. It begins with assigning an administrator to oversee the estate. The administrator functions the same as an executor. They will settle all liabilities and give the assets to the legal airs (from spouse to children to parents to siblings down to the next of kin).
Dealing with probate amid the pandemic
There’s no denying the impact of the pandemic on the lives of people. About five million people have died thus far due to the COVID-19 infection.
As thousands of families have lost their loved ones to the novel coronavirus, they have found themselves handling estate administration and the probate process. Due to the pandemic restrictions, it can be challenging to deal with the whole process. These families may encounter delays in the distribution of their loved one’s assets.
Furthermore, individuals and families with elderly loved ones (and even those with critical conditions) have thought about estate planning. The pandemic has led to the demand for writing wills. Also, they have sought to understand what the probate process entails. Ultimately, almost everyone is thinking about their mortality.
Working with a legal expert for estate planning
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, it’s a good idea to hire a trust and estate attorney. It’s crucial now more than ever to set your estate planning in place. Why? It’s best to be prepared and ready for what lies ahead and for any future possibility.
A professional attorney can help you deal with the following estate planning concerns:
- Last will and testament: This entails writing instructions about the distribution of your assets in case of your death.
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts: The former is a living trust that you can modify. On the other hand, the latter is a permanent one.
- Power of attorney (POA): It’s a legal document that allows you to designate a person to act on your behalf
- Healthcare surrogate: You legally assign this person to make medical decisions for you. It happens when the time comes you can no longer decide for yourself.
Understanding the probate process will help you make the right decision. As far as your asset distribution is concerned, you know what to do in the event of your death. Whether you write a will or not, you know what to do and expect amid the pandemic. It’s best to work with a legal expert who can guide you in your estate planning for the benefit of your family and your utmost peace of mind.