Virtual end of life planning, will and testament drafting available during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- While it can be a difficult topic to think about, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of making a will for your loved ones.

During these uncertain times you may be considering getting your finances in order, or even thinking about your end of life planning. It's a difficult situation to think about, but it is easier to do than ever, and now easily available without worrying about social distancing.

"All of us should try to do as much front loading of that effort as possible, and minimize the amount of anxiety and stress we might cause for our family by not taking care of our affairs in advance," said Jack Newton, CEO and co-founder of Clio, a legal technology company.

Illinois recently allowed lawyers to meet virtually with clients to create wills, trusts and health directives. After showing your identification remotely, the documents can be notarized. Most states have allowed this change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think in a lot of ways we have seen more transformation in the last two months than we might have in the next 10 years if it hadn't been for COVID-19; just really rapid adoption of technology," said Newton. "An evolution of the system will overall improve access in the long run."

It's important that your plans are in order, even if you are currently healthy, so that no matter what happens, your wishes can be carried out. If you are in the hospital with the virus, family may not be able to be present to assist, and your doctors should know your directives.
"I really think that people need to get ahead of the curve so to speak, and to be thinking about these issues preemptively before they are beset with any kind of illness," Newton said. "Especially in the COVID-19 era, where being hospitalized could mean getting physically cut off, and potentially cut off from all forms of communication with anyone outside of the hospital."

Newton said you should have the person in charge of your estate clearly defined, and don't forget about your digital life.

"Your digital footprint actually ends up being one of the most painful things for your family members to recover without the benefits of access to your email accounts for example," he said.

There are things you can do right now , like write down all of your social media and bank account app passwords in a safe place and give them to a loved one. Make sure your attorney has all of this information when creating a will.

You can also find apps to safely manage all of your passwords and other apps, and then you can give that trusted information to a loved one. As for virtual planning, it may be around a while; some judges even say it could be permanent.
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