Estate Planning Self-Help in Uncertain Times: A Note From Mary Anne Vance

In times of uncertainty or distress, I focus on the things I can control, like what I’ll make for dinner or when will I take a walk. Having some sense of control stabilizes me.  During the past two weeks I have talked with many clients about ways they can confirm their control of their advance care and estate planning wishes as expressed in their Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Health Directive, and Retirement account beneficiaries. 

Here are a few simple things you can do:

  1. Review Your Current Estate Planning Documents. If you do not have the documents handy, email me at or call me at (206)624-6271 and leave me a voice message. I will send you an electronic set of your signed documents within a day or two at no charge. Consider whether your existing documents reflect your current wishes.
  2. Complete an Updated Estate Planning Questionnaire. This will take you 1 to 2 hours. It is the single most important action you can take to help yourself and your family have a clear and current record of your assets and other personal data. You will need to fill one out either as a married couple, or an unmarried person.  Use the hyperlinks to access the documents, or let me know if you’d like a copy of the questionnaire that you have given me in the past.
  3. Review Beneficiary Designations. Contact the holder of each of your retirement accounts and get a written confirmation of your beneficiaries, both primary and secondary. Read our blog post written by attorney Joshua Reinertson decoding the new SECURE Act pertaining to IRAs. One impact of this change in the law is that clients are changing their IRA beneficiary designations, as most recipients now only have 10 years to withdraw the funds (rather than over their lifetime).
  4. Update Your Health Care Directives. Read Attorney Carla Calogero’s article “Considerations in Individualized End of Life Planning” outlining important advance care documents you may wish to have in place and other end of life considerations in time of medical uncertainty.

The Reed Longyear Estate Planning Group is working full-time to provide you with the best possible legal services and attention during this difficult time.  Every day I’m inspired by the resilience of the human spirit and encouraged by the stories I hear of people taking charge of their lives in these challenging times.  

So here’s to all of you… may you find refuge in your home and kindness in your heart.   

Most Sincerely,
Mary Anne Vance