Now Is The Right Time To Update Your Estate Plan (And It's A Lot Easier Than You Think)

by Andy Gutwein & Laura Vogler

With the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last several weeks, many of us are recognizing the harsh reality that we're all vulnerable. There are so many factors outside of our control, we can't possibly know what the future holds for us. Our faith can help us cope with that reality, but it doesn’t change it. As we've all said before (and will say again), these are extraordinary times -- unimaginable just a few months ago.

As an essential service, our law firm, Gutwein Law, is open for business. Most of our team members are working from home, with a handful of people physically in the office and spread out at safe distances. Fortunately for us and our clients, we invested in advanced technology before the pandemic, meaning we didn't miss a beat during the transition to working from home.

While we've currently modified our approach to client interaction (we're not meeting in person except in extraordinary circumstances), we remain committed to continuing to prepare and update estate plans. In fact, it's uncertain times like these where it's most important for long-term planning to be in place.

If you need to create or update your estate plan, here's what you can expect when working with us:

  1. Initial planning conference held by telephone or video call. We'll first talk through your assets, potential beneficiaries, and options for planning. If you already have an estate plan in place, we can discuss any updates needed.
  2. Draft documents emailed for review. Once we create a plan for what's best for you and your family, our team will work to draft the documents and send them over to you for review via email. We can also get back on the phone or video call to review and discuss as needed.
  3. Meet to sign and properly witness the documents. This is probably the most unique part of the process based on the current situation. When the documents are final, we'll figure out the best option to get them properly witnessed and completed:
    1. First, the State Supreme Court has put an emergency order in place which allows us to witness certain documents virtually via a video call. The catch is we will have to meet again within 90 days after the shelter in place order is lifted to witness in-person.
    2. The next option is to do a drive up signing. Essentially, you pull up to the curb and stay in your car. Our team will approach your vehicle and hand you the documents. We stay at a safe distance while everyone signs, and then you drive away. Following the signing, we'll compile your documents and mail you the completed documents like we normally would. This has been the most popular method and has worked well.
    3. Last, if you're in a long-term care facility that is not allowing visitors, we can work with the staff there to serve as witnesses for the documents.

Updating your estate plan is generally a lot easier than you think, and now is the right time to get your plan up-to-date. Your loved ones will appreciate it. If you have any questions or are interested in updating or creating an estate plan, please reach out. Our team can be contacted at 765.423.7900 or at info@gutweinlaw.com. Stay safe and healthy out there.