One of the consequences of the pandemic is that it is forcing all of us to think about our mortality—What would happen to my family if I required hospitalization or worst yet, if I died, due to reasons related to the virus or otherwise? Will my family be prepared for the legal and financial consequences? Obviously, these are questions no one wants to discuss or address, but the reality is that there is a heightened risk we did not have to worry about a month ago. For these reasons, it has never been essential to have a good estate plan.
For the past month, we have been receiving numerous phone calls and e-mails from families who want to finalize estate plans started months and sometimes years ago or who always wanted to obtain an estate plan but never had the time to start the process, or who simply are scared of catching the virus and want to be protected “just in case.”
Regardless of which category you fall in and despite the stay at home orders and social distancing requirements in effect, the estate planning attorneys of Offit Kurman are ready, willing and able to help you address your estate planning needs and to get your estate planning documents signed and in place during the pandemic. In fact, between technology and certain executive orders, the entire process can be completed in five steps, all of which can be completed without you ever leaving your home.
If you have an existing relationship with Offit Kurman, you should reach out to your point of contact at the firm who in turn can help facilitate connecting you to one of our eighteen estate planning attorneys. Of course, if you do not have an existing relationship with Offit Kurman, you can learn about each one of our estate planning attorneys by visiting the department’s webpage (https://www.offitkurman.com/service/estates-and-trusts-planning/) and determine which attorney you feel would be best suited to handle your needs.
Once you have identified the attorney, you should contact the attorney by e-mail or phone. Although we are working at home to comply with stay at home orders, we are fully operational and will quickly respond to your inquiry. During this initial interaction (which will be conducted at no cost or obligation to you), we will learn more about your goals and provide you with more information about the estate planning process, including the documents you will need to compile and how we will bill for our services. Assuming you are ready to proceed further in this process, you and the attorney will then be able to schedule the initial consultation for a date and time convenient for you.
The purpose of the initial consultation is for us to better understand your personal, financial and tax goals and design a plan to best address your needs. If you have a computer with a web camera, we can easily have the initial consultation through videoconferencing technology. If this sounds complicated, it is not. We will e-mail you an electronic link to click and in less than a minute, you will have a visual and audio connection with the attorney without you ever having to download any programs or apps and at no additional cost to you. (Please note that we do not use any of the videoconference programs which have had high profile security lapses.) And if you do not have a computer with a web camera, we can still have a videoconference using a smart phone with a camera (e.g., FaceTime) or of course, we can have a traditional phone call and forego the visual experience. Regardless of which mode you select, we will provide you with a secure and effective way to finalize the terms of your estate plan and in a way which will feel almost like you are meeting with us in our office.
Once the terms of your estate plan have been finalized, we will prepare your documents and e-mail them to you for review. But if you are not comfortable reviewing documents on the computer or you do not have a printer to print out all of the documents, we will be happy to deliver the documents to you using regular mail or an overnight delivery service (again at no additional cost to you).
After you have reviewed your new estate planning documents, we will review the plan in further detail with you and address your questions or concerns. Some clients elect to have this discussion with us using e-mail and some clients elect to have this discussion by scheduling another telephone call or videoconference with us—you will decide which mode you prefer. At the conclusion of this discussion, we should be able to finalize the documents and make the necessary arrangements for you to execute them.
Ordinarily, estate planning documents must be signed by our clients in the physical presence of witnesses and a notary public. Obviously, stay at home orders and social distancing requirements make this almost impossible to perform at this time.
Fortunately, through executive order, you can now execute estate planning documents without ever leaving your home. After finalizing the documents, we will deliver them to you by e-mail or regular mail and schedule a mutually convenient date and time for you to sign the documents. On the date and time of the signing meeting, we will again e-mail you an electronic link to click and in less than a minute, we will be connected with you by videoconference and in such a way that you, the attorney, and the firm’s team of witnesses and the notary public all can observe one another and communicate with one another to the same extent as if all of us were physically present in the same location. (Please note that as required by executive order, an audio and visual recording of this conference must be made and retained.) After administration of the appropriate oaths and completion of the appropriate acknowledgments, we will direct you on where to sign the documents and how to return the documents back to us for finalization. Please note that while the above approach is the one best suited to protect the health and safety of our clients and our staff, we recognize on limited occasions, the above process may not be the most conducive option for a client to execute estate planning documents. Under these circumstances, we will examine alternative options to assist you in completing the estate planning process.
Once you have signed and returned the documents to us, we will finalize your binder of documents and return them to you with instructions on how to address certain post-execution items such as designation of beneficiaries to life insurance policies and retirement accounts. And voila, you will finally have an effective estate plan in place to protect your family!
In summary, in many ways, the estate planning process has never been easier. We encourage you to utilize this time to get your affairs in order “just in case,” and we look forward to helping you finally cross off this very important item from your to-do list.
ABOUT RAJIV GOEL
For almost twenty years, business owners, professionals and retirees concerned about death, disability or other life changing events and the impact they could have upon their loved ones, have actively sought Raj’s counsel in addressing all of their estate planning needs. Aside from Raj‘s experience and technical skills with these complex and emotional issues, his clients come to him because they know he genuinely cares for them and is willing to go to great lengths to ensure the terms of their estate plans are customized to meet their individual goals. Over the years, this relationship-oriented approach has allowed Raj to build his practice solely by word-of-mouth referrals and is the reason why many other attorneys use him to address their own legal needs.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing full-service law firms in the United States. With 14 offices in seven states, and the District of Columbia, and growing by 50% in two years through expansions in New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina, Offit Kurman is well-positioned to meet the legal needs of dynamic businesses and the individuals who own and operate them. For over 30 years, we’ve represented privately held companies and families of wealth throughout their business life cycles.
Whatever and wherever your industry, Offit Kurman is the better way to protect your business, preserve your family’s wealth, and resolve your most challenging legal conflicts. At Offit Kurman, we distinguish ourselves by the quality and breadth of our legal services—as well as our unique operational structure, which encourages a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurialism. The same approach that makes our firm attractive to legal practitioners also gives clients access to experienced counsel in every area of the law.
Find out why Offit Kurman is The Better Way to protect your business, your assets and your family by connecting via our Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn pages. You can also sign up to receive LawMatters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
DELAWARE | MARYLAND | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | NORTH CAROLINA | PENNSYLVANIA | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON, DC