Why Guardianships Are So Important During the Pandemic

Having led to over 15,880 deaths in New Jersey as of August, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on estate planning. For better or worse, this pandemic is forcing many residents to grapple with estate-related decisions they may have previously neglected. Guardianships, which many people forget about during the estate planning process, are now becoming more important than ever.

Dealing With the Implications of the Ongoing Pandemic

While the mass media tends to focus on COVID-19 fatalities, this illness also has a notably high morbidity rate. In other words, many people who survive this disease become hospitalized and incapacitated. Instituting an Emergency Guardianship Proxy (EGP) can give a parent greater peace of mind and security. If you become too ill to care for your child, your EGP will kick in. Whatever happens, your designated guardian will ensure that your child receives all necessary attention and care. In the event that you pass away due to illness, any existing guardianship will give way to the guardianship arrangements specified in your will.

How the EGP Works

Amid this tragic and complex COVID-19 epidemic, parents can no longer neglect guardianship designations. You can nominate a relative, friend or anyone else with your confidence. Whoever you choose should be as responsible as they are trustworthy. If necessary, you can select a different guardian for each one of your children. Within certain parameters, you can even specify which powers your guardian will have available to use for the benefit of your child.

Confronting one’s mortality is generally a fraught experience. Nevertheless, it can be very gratifying to plan for the future. People can take comfort in knowing they are arranging for the financial security of their family members. Arguably, EGPs are among the most important tools in the estate planner’s toolkit. Naturally, people in high-risk categories are socially distancing and staying home for extended periods. Wisely, many are reaching out to attorneys and finalizing their wills.

Alternative Methods for Finalizing Your Estate Plan

Supposing it’s not safe to confer with your attorney in person, technology provides an easy solution. These days, most attorneys are available to communicate with clients through email, phone and remote video conferencing. Throughout the estate planning process, your estate attorney can keep you updated by email. As your essential estate documents take shape, you’ll have plenty of time to make necessary adjustments. After your estate plan is fully prepared, you’ll need to sign several legal documents to finalize everything. If you neglect any document or step of the process, surviving family members may end up needing a estate planning litigation lawyer.

Legal document signing can take a number of different forms. During the pandemic, most lawyers are handling this process on a case-by-case basis. Depending on your specific needs, an in-office signing could work out just fine. However, you don’t necessarily have to leave your home to sign legal documents. Your estate planning lawyer can potentially have documents delivered to your home for signing. In this case, your lawyer will provide you with instructions on how to proceed. In many cases, friends or neighbors can serve as witnesses as you sign legalize documents.

Online Document Notarization

Though online document notarization is still relatively new, it’s becoming more common across the nation. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a temporary remote notary law on April 14. For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, notaries public and persons authorized to take oaths will be allowed to perform their jobs remotely in certain circumstances. It’s unknown if this law will be made permanent after the pandemic subsides.

If you’ve secured reputable legal representation, your estate attorney will help you navigate the law while securing your family for the long-term. When you file an EGP, the law generally requires that all interested parties receive notification of the nomination. Even if you and your attorney do everything right, your guardianship may be contested in court.

So long as you have the right legal representation, you should be able to deal with any legal hurdles that present themselves. That’s where The Knee Law Firm comes in for residents of New Jersey. Whether you need help with the planning process or require an estate planning litigation lawyer, we’ll be there for you. Contact our office in Hackensack, NJ, at 201-996-1200.