Partners Susan Bart and Christine Quigley were quoted on demand for estate planning services during the COVID-19 pandemic and gave suggestions for finding planning professionals.
Susan said, “We’re all sitting at home, and we need things to occupy us, so it’s a great time to ask your attorney to send over copies of your current documents, update your financial statements, to help your attorney review your current plan. Because there are only so many cakes and cookies that we can bake and eat when we’re all sitting at home.”
When creating or updating a will or trust, many people often have to be in the same room to sign, notarize, and witness the signing of the legal document. However, due to social distancing directives, that is not currently possible.
Christine said that she hopes electronic witnessing and notarization and other remote alternatives, such as those New York has authorized, will exist in Illinois soon, adding that it wouldn’t surprise her if this becomes a permanent change that comes out of this pandemic.
Susan added that she has been working with American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), and the Chicago and Illinois Bar associations to obtain an executive order or legislative change to ease the process of executing documents that require witnessing or notarization.
When looking for an estate planning attorney, Susan recommended finding a proper estate planner by going through an established firm like Schiff or finding one through the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Christine added that people can go through their existing networks of service professionals, such as bankers or accountants, to find a planner.
Susan encouraged those seeking to create a will to also consider creating a trust. She said that a will is effective only at death and has to go through probate, while a revocable trust avoids that.
“If I have a great amount of confidence in the people that I’m naming as successive trustees then I can simplify the whole process for them by using the revocable trust,” she said.
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