April 9th, 2020
A few months ago, the news of the spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19) seemed distant. The reality began to sink in as news of confirmed cases spread across the nation and finally to our own state of West Virginia and to a nursing home within our Morgantown community. A sense of uncertainty was evident. We saw it in the empty shelves of our grocery stores, the 24-hour news coverage, and the social distancing guidelines designed to “flatten the curve.” Many of us find ourselves with disrupted schedules and extra time on our hands as our social distancing guidelines are extended to at least the end of April.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious about the pandemic, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (CDC.gov) tells us that this outbreak is stressful for many people, especially older people and those with chronic diseases because they are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. One of the CDC’s tips to cope with this stress is to take care of ourselves and those who are important to us. That doesn’t surprise me because even under normal circumstances, clients who initially feel anxious about their estate plan express how relieved they feel after completing it.
According to PsychologyToday.com, you can relieve stress by problem solving which includes focusing on the problem, clarifying your concerns and creating a plan of action. While it is unpleasant to consider a potential illness or death, you can alleviate some of the associated stress by creating an estate plan that addresses your concerns and achieves your goals. For example, perhaps you are concerned your children will disagree about how to settle your estate after you pass away, but after consulting to your attorney, you learn that is a typical fear of parents and there are ways you can help avoid that scenario. Or perhaps you are worried you’ll lose your life savings or home due to the high cost of long-term care, but after consulting with your attorney, you learn what options you have to prevent that outcome.
As you clean out your closets, spruce up the yard, and try that new recipe, also consider creating or updating your estate plan. You may wonder how you can start planning when you can’t even leave your home, but modern technology actually makes virtual and telephone consultations very easy. Your attorney will carefully listen to your concerns and use that information to present options to you that will alleviate those concerns with solutions that are personal to you, rather than a canned will or trust.
It’s more important now than ever to seek the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney to assist you in these matters. The last thing you want is for an improperly drafted document to cause unnecessary delays in our already chaotic environment. There are many things out of our control right now, so it’s important to focus on the things we can control.
As we navigate this difficult time, take a break from the news regarding the pandemic, get some fresh air, exercise and try to eat as healthy as possible. On a personal note, our team lifts our clients and our community up in prayer daily, especially those who have been affected by the pandemic. We look forward to the day when we have overcome this pandemic and we can enjoy being together again.