The nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every Ohio business in one way or another. As many companies struggle to make ends meet while observing social distancing requirements, others are seeing unexpected increases in demand for certain goods and services. It’s certainly not surprising to hear that toilet paper sales are up, but there’s evidence that people are also thinking long term, as many Lorain County estate planning attorneys are reporting an increase in requests for wills. To learn more, The Chronicle-Telegram reached out to local professionals such as a probate judge and several estate planning lawyers, including Andrea Kryszak of Kryszak & Associates, Co., LPA. They shared their insights on how this crisis is impacting the people they serve and talked about why you shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to get your affairs in order.
Pandemic May Be Increasing Interest in Wills
There’s no data available on the topic yet but reports from many attorneys indicate there has been a notable increase in requests for writing a will or establishing a trust. These legal mechanisms can help ensure that after your death, your loved ones are cared for, or your assets are distributed, according to your wishes. Some are speculating that fear of being affected by the virus is prompting many people to consider what would happen if they were to die or become unable to share their wishes. Johns Hopkins University reports that as of May 14, 2020, the COVID-19 virus was responsible for over 84,000 deaths in the U.S.
As one of the attorneys asked to comment on the trend, Kryszak pointed out that front-line workers and those in “essential” positions may be contributing to this trend, including younger workers who would not otherwise be thinking about estate planning. Kryszak, who practices in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, and real estate law, has learned to view these issues from a family perspective. “Their family members are pushing them, ‘You’ve got to get this done,’” she told The Chronicle-Telegram. “Especially if they have younger children, to have provisions in place like who is going to take care of their children and who is going to handle the inheritance for the children.”
Death is Not the Only Reason to Have an Estate Plan or Will
While the increased interest in wills caused by the pandemic may be a good thing for many families, experts still stress the need to plan for eventualities like illness or death long before they occur. Lorain County Probate Court Judge James Walther, who was also consulted for the article, said: “I am a huge proponent that everybody over the age of 18 should get a will, especially if you own any property and especially if you have children.”
Other estate planning documents, such as a living will, can help notify friends and family of your medical wishes during your lifetime, and should ideally be in place well before they’re needed. Plus, the restrictions on face-to-face interaction caused by the virus have made it difficult in some cases to notarize or even sign the documents required.
Kryszak shared that one of her clients is trying to have a power of attorney signed and notarized by their parent, who is in a long-term care facility, but no one at the facility can act as a notary, and no outside visitors are currently allowed. “We’re just waiting and hoping that things get better soon so we can get their documents in order,” she said. “But that is a concern, because if they can’t sign the documents and their health gets worse, now we have to apply through the court for guardianship.”
Plan for Your Family’s Future Today
Despite the pandemic and its subsequent restrictions, many attorneys have remained ready and available to serve the needs of the public, including those at Kryszak & Associates, Co., LPA. Through the use of technology, including live chat, teleconferencing, and video consultations, our lawyers are available to discuss your estate planning or elder law questions today. Contact our office in Sheffield Village or Grafton by phone or complete our online contact form now to request an initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate wills and trusts attorney. We will assist you while maintaining all safety measures necessary to help keep you and your loved ones healthy.