Coronavirus Threat Should Prompt Action on Key Estate Planning Documents

By: Brigitt Orfield , Lloyd Stern , Maria Pitner | March 27, 2020
Coronavirus

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As the world navigates the onset of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and volatile financial markets, it is understandable to be anxious about the uncertainty that lies ahead. During this difficult time, the Henson Efron Estate Planning team is here to help you get peace of mind that your affairs are in order and you are prepared for whatever could possibly happen.   

Now more than ever we need to focus on our wellbeing and that of our loved ones. As a part of this process, we encourage individuals to review their current estate planning documents to ensure that basic documents are in order (Wills, Revocable Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, and Beneficiary Designations for life insurance and retirement accounts) and that these documents accurately reflect their current wishes.

A Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney are essential in times like these.

A Health Care Directive allows a designated agent to make health care decisions, if needed, and perhaps more importantly, allows an agent to receive protected health care information from health care providers (information covered by HIPAA). The document allows you to inform others of your health care wishes, if ever you were unable to communicate them in the moment.

A Power of Attorney allows an appointed agent to deal with third parties with respect to financial and other matters when needed. Identifying and authorizing someone capable that you trust to act on your behalf is critical to ensure your personal affairs are attended to if you were unable to manage them on your own. The individual in this role typically works closely with professional advisors such as accountants, financial advisors, and attorneys on your behalf, if necessary.

Simply having a Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive on hand can be comforting in uncertain times such as these.

Inventory your treasures while practicing social distancing.
If your current estate plan accurately reflects your wishes, we encourage you to review the provisions concerning disposition of your personal belongings. Now may be a great time to take advantage of time at home to inventory individual items you treasure and then determine which of your family and friends you would like to eventually have them.

Minnesota statutes allow for separate written statements or lists, provided the lists are referenced in your Will and are (i) either in your own handwriting, or (ii) signed by you, regarding the disposition of “tangible personal property”. Tangible personal property, as defined by Minnesota statutes does not include real estate, securities, money, coin collections, or property used in a trade or business. If you have any questions on what is (or is not) tangible personal property, please contact our office. Every statement or list must accurately describe each item so it can be properly identified and then specify exactly who will receive it. In the event an item is given to different persons by different writings, the most recent writing controls its disposition.

If you need assistance or have any questions relating to how an estate plan can help protect you and your loved ones during this time, contact our office at 612-339-2500 or email

The purpose of this article is merely to provide general information and should not be construed as legal advice.

Brigitt Orfield
I feel privileged to assist with your estate planning and grateful to be allowed into your life. Experiencing a variety of life events with clients builds trust, and I am proud of the long-standing relationships I have developed over the past 23 years. I work closely with individuals and families to plan for the transfer of wealth during their lifetimes and upon death with the...
Lloyd Stern
I have deep experience in the fiduciary administration of complex trusts and estates. For over 20 years, I have administered trusts and settled hundreds of high value estates involving complicated tax, accounting and valuation issues as well as managing the distribution of assets. I have gained a thorough understanding of the estate/trust business, and I know what works. In addition, I am proficient in alternative...
Maria Pitner
Truly understanding my clients’ needs and objectives are key to the development of a strategic and meaningful plan, and fostering a relationship they can trust for the long term. From creating an effective estate plan to helping clients navigate estate and trust administration matters, I assist with: preparation of wills and trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney drafting trusts for minors, charitable trusts, and...