Community Interest

Estate Planning During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Charles J. Moore, Attorney at Law

Like everyone else this past March, I watched the news of Covid-19 as it began to infect every channel of my television. The phones at my law office slowly stopped ringing in March and went all but dead silent in April as I made the difficult but necessary decision to close my business and work from home.

Eight months later, I can tell you that estate planning has never been more important in people’s lives. When we re-opened our office on May 1 of this year, we began to see Covid and its effects from a difficult perspective.

Calls from adult children whose parents were in a nursing home but needed to get “their affairs orders in order immediately”.

Calls from people who had lost a father or a sister in the pandemic and needed help probating their estate. Those were devastating to take as the details of the final hours of the lost were fresh on the mind of the person calling.

Calls from people who had been furloughed or permanently let go from their job and who wanted to use their work benefits to draw up an estate plan before those benefits ended.  You could hear the fear in their voice as they suddenly found themselves in an unknown.

We started an estate plan for a gentleman who tested positive for Covid-19 and passed away before we could get the documents signed. That was especially difficult.

We’ve been asked by worried clients who had started an estate plan before the pandemic to hold off until they had recovered. We were still able to get the documents signed when they did and in some cases, before they did.

We’ve received calls from former clients who stated that they were able to move quickly for their spouse to get tested when they were in quarantine because of the powers of attorney they already had in place.

One of our longtime clients, a wonderful lady, lost her husband just before Covid and has struggled financially since that time because assets are tied up in her estate.    She can’t leave the assisted living facility she stays at so we’ve been able to help her remotely.

Over the summer the daughter of a former client called to ask if she could sign as power of attorney for her mother when her taxes needed to be filed and she couldn’t go to her home to get her signature. I was happy to tell her that yes she could do that.

Our office recently had a Covid scare with an employee and had to shut down for two weeks. We were still able to work remotely. Our employee was fine and we’re all thankful for them and their family.

My beloved dog Macy has become the office mascot and despite the occasional annoying bark, she’s calmed collective nerves at various times by just being present. My ties and suits are collecting dust. Traffic to and from work has been lighter. Looking on the bright side has become a personal anthem for me….trying to find silver linings in constant dark clouds.

I miss meeting with my clients in person. The banter and a little humor before we discuss difficult topics. I miss going to court, interacting with judges and my colleagues, even opposing counsel.

But none of these “losses” are permanent. I realized that over the Thanksgiving holiday. Anything I miss or lost during Covid, thankfully, is temporary.

Charles J. Moore is an estate planning and elder law attorney and the founder of Legacy Law Center, which has offices in O’Fallon and St. Peters.  He can be reached at (636) 486-2669

Visit his website at www.legacylawmissouri.com

CALL TODAY TO ASK ABOUT VIRTUAL ESTATE PLANNING!

The information expressed herein should not be construed by the reader to be legal advice, nor relied upon as legal advice, as it is solely for informational purposes