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COVID-19 Pandemic Gives New Incentive to Estate Planning

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The scourge of the coronavirus has brought concern about mortality into sharper focus for many people, encouraging them to put more thought into planning their estates. This includes not only executing a will but also creating advance directives covering emergency healthcare situations. Fortunately, even with the need for social distancing, it is still possible to take these measures with knowledgeable legal assistance.

You don’t necessarily have to meet with an estate planning attorney in person. A telephone discussion may address and resolve many of the issues on which you need guidance. Email allows for the exchange of draft documents and other materials. A face-to-face conference by internet provides the opportunity for discussion as you and your attorney review relevant documents, such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney, in real time.

However, your will and other estate planning documents are not valid until they are properly executed. To make your will self-proving, you must sign it in the presence of two witnesses who must attest to it. Although the Pennsylvania Electronic Transactions Act (PETA) allows for electronic signatures on many documents, it specifically excludes wills and other estate planning instruments. Furthermore, certain documents, such as powers of attorney, require notarization, which also cannot be done electronically. As such, it is necessary to perform these tasks in person, usually at your attorney’s office, with appropriate safeguards such as masks and social distancing.

Still, much of estate planning is comprised of paperwork and decision-making that can be done remotely. You should prepare for each session with your attorney by thinking about what you want to accomplish. Your attorney will ask you a lot of questions about your property and objectives. The better you understand your goals, the better the attorney will be able to make them happen.

If you would like to discuss how to structure the transfer of your property or to manage emergency health situations, contact the knowledgeable and responsive estate planning attorneys of Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Call Robert E. McKee, Jr. at 412-263-6123 or Edwin W. Russell at 412-263-6080 or contact us online to schedule a conference.

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