Life Has Changed — Estate Planning Hasn’t

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a shock to the country, and to each of us individually. Even in good times, clients were anxious to get their estate plans completed. Now, the desire to get a plan in place is even more intense, especially for those on the front lines of this crisis. 

The best time to plan is in good times, when life is calm, and you have the freedom of time to make decisions at a settled pace. Conversely, death bed wills are terrible because the person is under duress, can’t think clearly, and typically another family member is calling the shots. All a recipe for disaster.

So, if you are sitting at home and you have more time than usual, now is the time to start putting an estate plan together. An estate plan consists of at least a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Power of Attorney (with a living will/advanced directive) and a Financial Power of Attorney. Attorneys like myself are now offering virtual meetings or phone calls to move the process forward.

Although we are facing challenging times due to COVID-19, it won’t last forever. But this won’t be the last crisis any of us face, and it’s always best to be prepared for the future. I’ve been hearing from several folks that, for better or worse, being around family more has allowed them to carefully re-evaluate their estate plan. Kids, be nice to your parents! Certainly, plans should be reviewed every few years, as changes in our life and circumstances are natural.

The clouds over us right now due to the coronavirus pandemic will gradually decrease, but we’re going to be paying for this for years. Our national debt was already bursting at the seems before we spent another $2 trillion (and very likely more). Somehow, we’ll have to pay for this in the future. The question is not if taxes will go up, but when and by how much. How will the government plug its budget? I will be keeping an eye on things like estate taxes and Medicaid eligibility requirements. Changes in these laws and others could change the dynamics of estate planning (and elder planning), so I will be keeping my eye on it and keeping my clients in the loop.

If you have estate planning or elder planning questions, please contact me at Jeremy@JawAtLaw.com or call (215) 706-0200.

A few items to note:

– Federal income tax filings are extended through July 15, 2020.

– Pennsylvania income tax filings are extended though July 15, 2020.