Since the onset of COVID-19, many people are experiencing a renewed sense of urgency around the importance of estate planning. “While the pandemic has not motivated all clients to update their estate plans, it has prompted people who suddenly feel more vulnerable to get their affairs in order,” said Helen Kemp, Partner at Virginia Estate & Trust Law. “Putting a will and trust in place, or executing a power of attorney and advance medical directive, gives people a bit of control over part of their lives and their beneficiaries’ futures.”
This new planning activity is accompanied by new procedures for attorney-client meetings to ensure everyone’s health and safety. For example, meetings are held via Zoom or other electronic means whenever possible. “We are also in the process of adding remote online notarization to the practice, which requires specific technology and licensing, but unfortunately, we can only sign some documents using this method,” said M.R. Litman, Senior Associate at Virginia Estate & Trust Law. “Wills, for example, still need to be witnessed and notarized in person.” For in-person meetings, Virginia Estate & Trust Law employs additional safety measures such as conducting potential exposure screenings, wearing face masks and gloves, and holding meetings outside.
For individuals and families who are currently approaching estate planning for the first time, and for those who are reassessing their existing plans, Kemp says this current moment is an opportunity to explore what role philanthropy can play.
“For those in a position to provide for charities as well as their family members’ vital interests, it is a critically important time to do so as the pandemic has reduced revenues and altered the way in which most charitable organizations serve their mission. In many ways, the pandemic has inspired creativity and generosity that I see as the silver lining in our current storm clouds.”
Helen Kemp, Partner at Virginia Estate & Trust Law
Many individuals choose to create a charitable legacy through a planned or estate gift. These commitments to strengthen the community can be one of the most meaningful and lasting decisions that donors make. The Community Foundation has extensive experience in planned gifts of all types and an intricate knowledge of the work being done in Greater Richmond to address our region’s most pressing needs. If you are interested in learning more about legacy giving with the Community Foundation, click here.
Helen Kemp and M.R. Litman work for Virginia Estate & Trust Law. In our conversations with them, we also learned more about how they chose their given field.
Why did you choose estate planning?
M.R. Litman: I chose estate planning because of the practical nature of the practice. Every adult needs a will, power of attorney, and advance medical directive, regardless of net worth. I am a people person, so I enjoy helping clients work through very personal family and financial issues, so that in the end, they can achieve their goals of providing for their loved ones and favorite charities.
Helen Kemp: I knew in law school and before that when working as a paralegal that as a lawyer, I wanted to counsel individuals one-on-one and work with their other professional advisors to accomplish clients’ long-term goals. I enjoy understanding each client’s concerns and objectives and helping to develop the best estate plan for his or her family members and other beneficiaries. Whether explaining complex tax rules and various trust structures or guiding clients through the administration of an estate or trust, we can help simplify situations they may at first see as overly complex and save them time and expense.