If you are the “prevention is the best medicine” type, chances are among the first things you did when the Covid-19 pandemic hit was institute an estate plan. If this is true, or if you already had one, congrats! You are among the decreasing minority of US adults that have taken this crucial step. Having a plan is not enough, though. Without regular updates your plan may be nearly as bad as having no plan at all.
Events of the present have damaged the economic landscape and individual health outlooks have shifted tremendously. It may be that a planned beneficiary previously in good financial standing has now suffered bankruptcy; it may be that the person entrusted with executing your estate lives too far away and cannot fulfill their duties because of current travel restrictions; it may be that your family structure has changed due to death or divorce; or, it may be that the healthy individual chosen as your medical power of attorney is no longer healthy enough to serve in this role. These are but a few examples of the sorts of changes that necessitate an update to your estate plan.
Despite the nationwide rollout of vaccines and stimulus relief designed to kickstart the economy, a return to normal is not coming any time soon. If this weren’t reason enough to ensure your estate plan is Covid-19 current another consideration is the fact that among the wreckage, fleeting financial opportunities exist for those agile enough to catch them.
These are the questions you want to take to your trusted attorney today:
Is Your Will or Living Trust Current?
Every well-planned estate includes at a minimum a will, durable power of attorney, and a healthcare directive. Many also feature a living trust (revocable grantor trust) to ensure assets are well-managed during times of incapacity, probate is avoided, and beneficiary distributions are executed smoothly (and privately) at death. All of this only works if kept up-to-date with your present wishes, goals, and family structure, though. Whenever a major life event occurs—and a global pandemic certainly counts—your will or living trust needs to be revisited.
Have You Funded Your Trust?
A living trust protects you and your family, including any members with special needs, but it only does so if fully funded. This involves both retitling assets, such as your home or financial accounts, into the name of the trust and designating the trust as the beneficiary of such things as life insurance and retirement accounts. Only by completing the process and funding your trust can you ensure probate is avoided and your life’s work passes to those you intend.
Do Your Advance Directives Need an Update?
Advance directives refer to your medical and financial powers of attorney, both of which are documents which invest a trusted loved one or advisor with the responsibility of caring for your finances or health should you become incapacitated. In pandemic times, ensuring these are in order is critical. After all, they are the documents which allow you to worry about nothing but getting better should you fall ill.
Are You Missing Out on Opportunity?
Little positive can be said about Covid-19 and yet that does not mean this period is without silver linings. Right now, you should be talking to your attorney about taking advantage of generous federal estate, gift, and generation skipping transfer tax exemptions that won’t last. With Section 7520 rates at a historic low, now is also the time to establish a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRATs) and ensure you maximize your heirs’ inheritance.
Let Us Update Your Estate Plan Today
Maintaining an up-to-date estate plan has always been crucial. This has never been truer than in the tumultuous present. At a time when none of us know what tomorrow brings, today is the day to act. Contact us and we’ll get you started right now.