What a difference a few weeks makes in all our lives.  While this too shall pass, clients have been calling with a variety of questions.  In case you have some of the same questions, we wanted to share them with you as answers can ease anxieties.

Are we open for business and accepting appointments? YES

We are following all health care guidelines and state orders.  Therefore, our entire staff is working remotely. However, we all have access to client documents, and communicate via Zoom, telephone, and/or email.  We are accepting client appointments via Zoom or conference call. Please call our main office number to schedule an appointment. 

Nursing Home Care Conferences and Contacts by our Elder Care Coordinators

Elder care advocacy is more important than ever before.  Therefore, our elder care coordinators continue to regularly contact clients and/or their legal representatives to check in on them.  We are attending nursing home care conferences virtually or via conference call. As to client care assessments, while face-to-face assessments are not possible until the stay-in-place orders are lifted, we will make every effort to speak with care providers, family members, and clients themselves to collect information and they provide guidance as we are able.  When appropriate, we are also able to offer virtual or telephonic client assessments.

Can I get copies of my estate documents? 

No worries. If you do not have them, we have scanned copies of everything and can securely send them to you or your family.  Just email or call us. While our team is working remotely, our communications remain the same.

My Guardian is out of state and cannot get to my kids if I am not home. 

Again, no worries.  New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow for a “standby guardian” to be named for this specific circumstance.  This is a temporary guardian and can be a local friend. We can prepare a Designation of Standby Guardian for you and the guardian to sign remotely.

What if I have questions on my documents – or anything else? 

Our new best friend is Zoom.  We arrange a meeting where you are at a computer, tablet, or phone.  We can do a video or regular call and share the documents with you on the screen to review any questions.  With video on, you get the benefit of some social contact.

I, or my family, need new or updated estate documents. 

We can prepare a new Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will, or Trust and arrange for complete remote execution.  While you are at home, this is a great time to pull out your documents, read them, and make sure (1) you understand them, and (2) the right people are named as Executor / Trustee / Guardian / Attorney-in-Fact.

What ONE estate document do I need to make sure my family members have right now? 

If we had to pick one, it would be a Living Will and Health Care Proxy / Advance Directive, along with a financial power of attorney.  The pandemic underscores how important it is to have another person with legal authority to make medical decisions. We can quickly prepare this and arrange a remote execution.  Most importantly, you need to understand how a Living Will and Health Care Proxy / Advance Directive function. We can do a Zoom meeting with you and the person named to review their role and authority.  This, of course, goes for any fiduciary.

My parent or family member lives in an assisted living or nursing home and I can’t see them. 

This is difficult, but the rationale is understandable.  Facilities understand this also and are trying to be flexible.  One idea is to arrange for a tablet or laptop to be delivered to the family member and ask someone at the facility to assist in setting up a Zoom call, it’s free for 1:1 visits, or if you have an Apple device you can use the app FaceTime.  You can see each other, talk, and even share a virtual meal! Family contact is so important for our elderly loved ones. If they need to speak to an attorney, we can arrange the same type of communication with them.

What about filing my taxes? 

The IRS has delayed the April 15 Tax filing and tax payment deadline to July 15 (this includes any estimated payments due April 15).  Great news! However, if you are expecting a refund, go ahead and file ASAP so the refund will be processed and sent. NO reason to wait until April or July.

My family member passed away and I need to probate the Will. 

Under the Governors’ orders, New Jersey and Pennsylvania courts, including the Surrogate’s Court and Register of Wills, are operating remotely.  This is new for those courts and there are delays and learning curves – however, they are open for essential business. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are preparing documents from information mailed to them and returning the documents to the attorney offices.  We are working with clients to have the documents signed and circulated back via mail.  

Rothkoff Law Group will continue to hold client Zoom calls to keep you updated as to changes with our office procedures as well as updates on COVID-19 and its impact on seniors.