To our valued clients and friends,
We sincerely hope everyone is well, taking care, and following all of the recommended precautions during these unprecedented times.
WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT DURING THIS TRYING PERIOD, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU.
In light of recent governmental directives for most persons to “shelter in place”, for the most part, our firm will operate remotely. Fortunately, we have the appropriate technology to continue our business operations. Accordingly, we are pleased to inform you that we are working regular business hours.
Our services do fit into the exemption under the public health order for “professional services, such as legal or accounting services, when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities”. At a minimum we encourage current clients wanting to make sure that their healthcare directives are in place to contact us.
We have considered how best to proceed with document signings for our estate planning clients. Given public health directives regarding crowd size and social distancing, we have designed a protocol to allow us to meet with our planning clients in the office in a manner that adheres to those directives. for cleaning the environment and incorporates social distancing. We are limiting the number of in office appointments and scheduling so that only the clients we are meeting with will be in the office. That means no one will be waiting in the reception area for a scheduled meeting. By limiting the traffic in the office, disinfecting the space before and after meetings and practicing handwashing (both myself and my staff, as well as clients) before we start our meetings, we feel we are meeting the current recommendations to limit the exposure to ourselves and to clients. We will of course not be working if ill and will expect clients who are not well will not request or keep appointment.
In addition, we are accessible by phone and email, and, if necessary, we can plan for telephone conference calls and video conferences. So, we welcome the opportunity to continue to help you. We recommend that you do not come to our office unannounced as we likely will not be there until the government lifts the current travel restrictions.
We strongly recommend that you review your existing estate planning documents for the following provisions:
- Fiduciaries (Successor Trustee, Will Executor, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney) Are these persons still your preferred choices? Are they still capable of and willing to serve in these roles? If a change is needed, please contact us.
- Beneficiaries Are the designated beneficiaries under your trust still the preferred choices? Are you satisfied with the shares you have allocated to them? Are there any special conditions for a specific beneficiary that you would like to add or remove? If a change is needed, please contact us.
- Health Care Preferences Do the designated choices you have made in your Advance Health Care Directive properly express your care preferences? If a change is needed, please contact us.
- Asset titling Are all your real estate and financial accounts titled in the name of your trust? For almost all assets, they should be. Three key exceptions may be life insurance, annuities and retirement accounts (such as IRAs, 401k’s, 403b’s, etc.) in which the designation of beneficiaries is the key consideration. If you have questions, please contact us.
- Original documents Do you know where your original estate planning documents are located? We provided them to you in the green estate planning portfolio binder. If you moved the original documents from your estate planning portfolio, you should also have noted their location in your green binder under the “Information” tab. Does your successor trustee know where those documents are? Does he/she know how to access them, for example, know the safe combination or have the key to the safe deposit box along with having his/her name on the bank’s signature card so as to be able to access the safe deposit box? If your original signed documents have become lost or were destroyed, please contact us.
Young adult children: Even if they do not have enough assets to worry about a will or trust, young adults should have properly prepared powers of attorney for health care, powers of attorney for financial matters and a HIPAA (medical information) release form. Without these documents, in the event of a serious illness (such as may be caused by COVID-19) or accident, if they are unable to make medical or financial decisions on their own, a costly, burdensome and time-consuming legal procedure known as conservatorship may be required. These situations can extend far beyond the current coronavirus pandemic.
Older and Vulnerable Family Members and Friends: As with younger folks, those who are elderly or suffer from serious medical problems also should have in place a properly prepared powers of attorney for health care, powers of attorney for financial matters and a HIPAA release form. In addition, they should also have a Will if their estate is modest (under $100,000) or a trust for those with more than $100,000 in assets and/or if they own any real estate. If such persons are within your circle of close friends or relatives (including your parents and/or adult children), it would be in their best interests for you to encourage them to take the time to get their affairs in order before it’s too late.
Should you need our assistance or have a question in the interim, you can reach us in the following ways:
By telephone, by calling (510) 483-0359. You should be able to reach a live person during business hours. However, if you get a voice mail recording, please leave a message with your name, phone number and purpose of call and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
By email, as follows:
Sarah Galvin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember we’re all in this together and together we will get through this!
To your good health, happiness and prosperity.
Sarah E. Galvin
Law Office of Sarah E. Galvin