We can all agree that the year 2020 has changed our lives and one of the reasons is because of COVID-19. I know it did for me. In March, I got laid off from my very first paralegal job at a tax and foreclosure law firm in New York City. I was devastated not only because it was my first job working as a paralegal, but because I was only working there for about three months. During that time, many Americans like myself was feeling hopeless to finding a new job after getting laid off. Even today, many people are still looking for a job.
At the end of June, I was fortunate enough to be hired as a Paralegal/Administrative Assistant at a trusts and estates law firm called Avelino Law, LLP located in Summit, New Jersey and New York.
I did not know what to expect when starting the new job. What I first noticed was how busy everyone was with the back-to-back phone calls and the consistent e-mails flowing from clients. It then hit me as to why the firm was busy. COVID-19 is a huge threat to the lives and health of countless people. The virus has more people preparing for the worst. What I also witnessed at my job is those who almost died because of having COVID, called to do their estate planning documents.
According to CNBC.com, the pandemic has produced a rise in estate planning however, majority of Americans still do not have a Will. The LegalZoom.com survey found that 62% of Americans do not have a will and, of those who do, 12% created them in the past 12 months — and 44%, in the last five years. The more I work at the law firm, the more I realize how important it is to having your own trusts and estates documents such as a Will, a Living Will, a Power of Attorney and other documents.
I know it is scary to think about our own death but I do believe it is crucial to plan to protecting yourself as well as loved ones. Having proper estate planning documents will help control the disposition of assets at death and to enable other people to make our financial and medical decisions if we are unable to. Below are terms and definitions for basic estate planning documents in the state of New Jersey that can help you have a better understanding of what each term means.
Last Will and Testament– a document that defines the distribution of the assets of a testator (a person who has made a will or given a legacy) will be distributed upon their death.
Trust – a document that explains your assts are transferred to a trustee or trustees that you selected either while you are living or upon your death.
Living Will – is a document that provides “instructions to the Declarant’s Medical team with regard to how they would like to have their end of life options honored when there are no medical options to extend a quality of life.”
Power of Attorney– it is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to manager your financial, property or medical affairs if you become unable to do so.
It is never too early or too late to plan for your future at any age. Consider hiring a trusts and estates attorney to assist your estate planning needs because he or she can help you save a lot of time, energy, and effort in building out your estate plan. If you have any questions or want to start your estate planning documents, please feel free to reach out to me or Avelino Law, LLP.
Samantha is currently a paralegal and an administrative assistant at Avelino Law, LLP. Every day at her job, she is learning something new especially trusts and estates planning law. She is involved in the paralegal world by being member of a few Associations and she is the Social Media Coordinator of the New York City Paralegal Association, Inc. On her free time, she enjoys working out, walking outside, and spending time with family and friends.