In the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, is now the right time to consider updating or starting your estate plan? Below are seven reasons I put together to consider why now may be the time. In no particular order:
1 – Concern About Future: For me, the pandemic has been eye-opening in several ways personally, and many of my clients who have started their estate plans in the last couple of months say the same thing. Their concern for the future—and the unknown—has added urgency to planning.
2 – SECURE Act: The SECURE Act was passed in December, 2019—feels like a century ago, right? But it could change your estate plan, particularly if you have significant retirement assets. Get your plan reviewed to ensure it is SECURE Act optimized.
3 – Out-of-Date: There’s something worse than having no plan at all—having an outdated plan. If that 20-year-old Will has the wrong people in it, the right people will be cut out. Also, many folks I’ve met with have a Last Will & Testament, but no Power of Attorney for incapacity, and no Living Will for end-stage medical conditions. A Last Will & Testament and Living Will are two VERY different things, and you need both.
4 – Medicaid Planning: Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care may only get more stringent over the next decade or two. Many are familiar with the five-year look-back period. What if the law changes to expand it to 7, 8 or 10 years? If you’ve thought about advanced planning, such as using a Medicaid Trust, gifting, or employing another strategy, now is the time to take action. I can assure you there won’t be any “grandfathering” into the 5-year window if the law changes, so the sooner you act, the better off you’ll be.
5 – Health Care: The pandemic has made many of us consider our health care options if we are admitted to a hospital, become incapacitated, or face end-of-life issues. Everyone needs a Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, sometimes called an Advanced Directive. That allows you to appoint an Agent you trust and to make clear your wishes.
6 – Disorganized/Confusing: There’s nothing worse than a disorganized, confused and/or convoluted estate plan. I’ve seen them all, but just imagine the following scenario: The family is sure you have a Will, but it can’t be found. No one is positive if you have a life insurance policy, but someone thinks there may be one. There should have been beneficiaries on the IRA, but none were ever indicated; now the money has to go to the estate, which will cause a steep tax burden. The Will is finally located, leaving assets 5 ways, but then the family learns that all of the financial accounts are joint with just one other person, cutting out the other 4. Is this the type of plan you want to leave? If you fear your plan is a mess, an attorney can help you organize it based on your goals.
7 – More Time: If you have more time on your hands, why not take advantage and spend the time taking care of important matters. Estate planning is definitely one of them. Without an estate plan, your family could be confused as to your wishes, there could be arguments/conflicts, and perhaps even a court guardianship if you are incapacitated. Create a plan to avoid all of that nonsense.
For help with your estate plan, please contact Jeremy A. Wechsler, Your Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, today by emailing Jeremy@JawAtLaw.com or calling (215) 706-0200. We are offering convenient Zoom meetings or telephone calls for the complimentary first appointment.