In recent weeks, we have started to see a few shreds of optimism and the chance that our lives can start to get back to this “new normal” we keep hearing so much about. But with things about to start slowly getting back to some semblance of normality, for those of us whose jobs have been thrown into turmoil by the effects of the pandemic, it’s time for some serious reflection. In times of reflection, and given the catastrophic global death rates sparked by the pandemic, it’s only natural that our minds would turn to taking care of our financial planning and estate planning.
In many ways, COVID has changed how we see the world and our own mortality and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it might mean there’s a renewed focus on ensuring our affairs are in order in case the worst should happen.
What is estate planning?
In essence, it’s abutting ensuring your assets and responsibilities are passed on to the people you want them to be passed onto. With so many people falling sick with COVID this last year and the world pivoting towards a remote working template, a lot has changed in the world of wills and estates.
A renewed focus
Lockdown not only changed our overall spending patterns (it’s estimated the average UK household saved literal thousands during just the first lockdown, let alone the second) but it’s changed how we perceive the future and our roles within it. For many even in their 20s and 30s, it was a period that saw them finally decide to take out a pension and plan for retirement, given the uncertain state of the economy and the likelihood that state pensions will cease to exist 30 or 40 years from now.
Doubling down on preparedness
For those with their affairs already in order, meanwhile, it meant reinforcing their commitment to ensuring their financial legacy was where it was supposed to be. This could be something as simple as making sure key documents were in a safe place and that power of attorney was issued to the right people. It’s the kind of thing nobody likes to think about but the pandemic has brought all of this to the fore.
Perhaps the most valuable thing you can do, besides ensuring you have an estate plan in order, is to modify your documents so that you can authorise the electronic communication of decisions by your agent. This can be over the internet and via digitally signed documents. This might not have been an important consideration in the days before social distancing but that is very much the reality now. Ensure every eventuality is accounted for and that your agent will be able to act on your behalf whatever the circumstances. It might be the most important decision you ever make