April 7, 2020
COVID-19 has caused major disruptions to the usual way of life. With the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States and the uncertainty it has created, many are wondering whether their estate plans are complete and up-to-date. The COVID-19 pandemic creates an opportunity for those contemplating estate planning to take prudent action. The following are some helpful estate planning tips that can be acted upon during this unprecedented time:
- Estate planning documents, including wills and trusts, should be current and reflect your wishes. Estate planning documents should pass real and personal property to select people and/or charities in a manner that reflects your wishes. Any named successor, executor (in a will), or trustee (in a trust) should be suitable, able, and willing to serve in that role. The importance of not only considering, but also finalizing estate plans is paramount. If needed, estate plans can be changed or updated at any future time. At a minimum, every adult should have a will.
- Advance directives should be up to date and easily accessible. Advance directives authorize agents to make important medical and financial decisions in the event you are unable or incapable of doing so. Advance directives include health care proxy, living will, and power of attorney. These advance directives must be reviewed and updated, if required.
- Analyzing the Impact of the SECURE Act on your estate. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (“SECURE Act”), which became effective on January 1, 2020, enacted new rules regarding the payout of retirement accounts to deceased beneficiaries. As a result of the SECURE Act, most non-spouse beneficiaries will pay income tax on an accelerated basis and at higher rates with respect to inherited retirement accounts. It is recommended that anyone with a retirement account review their beneficiary designations and estate planning documents. Various estate planning strategies enacted now can assist with mitigating with some of the impact of the SECURE Act.
- Organize your estate planning documents in an easily accessible location. Keeping organized and easily accessible estate planning documents ensures that the appropriate people can locate and access your estate planning documents when needed.
Preparing and finalizing estate planning documents can be done at home, and obtaining required signatures can be completed in accord with social distancing guidelines. We are available to advise and assist you at every turn. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.