Planning Your Estate During the Coronavirus Pandemic

It's never been more important to have an estate plan in place.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought people’s priorities into sharp relief, making the possibility of mortality more acutely apparent than any other time in recent history. Because of that, consideration of estate planning is likely on the rise during a challenging time when courts are closed, and most legal proceedings are on hold. However, it is still possible to do estate planning even now, and it should not be put off if the sole reason for delay is the inability to travel to a law office and meet with an attorney.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a highly infectious disease known to cause severe respiratory problems in many people infected by it. The disease can affect people of any age or background but is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with certain chronic health issues. Unfortunately, the danger posed by the coronavirus is so great that people should not be meeting with attorneys in person to discuss estate planning or executing estate planning documents, even if you can locate a New Jersey law office that is still open to the public.

Fortunately, there are alternative measures available for attorneys to handle estate planning matters with their clients. Many attorneys are now consulting with their clients remotely, whether by telephone or video calls. Estate planning documents can still be produced and modified to conform to a client’s wishes. New Jersey law already permits several ways that a document can be valid as a person’s Will, even if it is not finished through the normal process of signing a document in front of witnesses and a notary in the same room. The New Jersey legislature has also provided additional assistance with the enactment of a new law as of April 13, 2020 that allows for notaries to remotely notarize certain documents during the current state of emergency, such as wills and powers of attorney, which are essential components of many people’s estate plans. As a result, it is still possible to get effective estate planning documents in place even with the coronavirus shutting down much of public life.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney understand that the aging population has specific and diverse needs, during and after a public health emergency. The firm helps seniors and their family by handling all aspects of elder law including end of life planning, asset preservation, Medicaid planning, and trusts and estates issues. If you need to consult on elder law issues, call The Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney at (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.

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