“Life does not stand still,” wryly observed the American Bar Association in a chapter of its estate planning document titled “Changing Your Mind”. You may have already crafted an estate plan, but that’s hardly the end of the process, the ABA stressed, because a number of things can happen to make document changes necessary: The authors were referring to the possibility that, since you last visited with your estate planning attorney, not only might the laws have changed, but you may have:
- had more children – or grandchildren
- acquired new assets
- undergone a separation or divorce
- bought or sold a business
- bought or sold real estate
- enrolled in – or graduated from college
Notably, the article, written a couple of years ago, makes no mention of one enormous life-changing factor – a pandemic;it’s certainly affected our lives and our work at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates. We implemented a phased approach to re-opening our office to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our clients and staff. We require all participants to wear masks for in-person meetings, and we observe strict social distancing guidelines. We also implemented rigorous cleaning procedures for all surfaces before and after in-person meetings to ensure everyone’s continued safety.
But even before COVID-19 began its incursion into every aspect of our everyday lives, at Geyer Law, we have often found it necessary to remind our clients that proper estate planning isn’t only about assets and how and to whom you want those assets transferred. A complete plan also incorporates your wishes about personal care should you become ill or incapacitated. Could you change your mind about those things as well? The pandemic has called our attention to concerns about healthcare facilities, as well as interest in the discovery of new medications and therapies which opened new possibilities for aging in place.
And, the laws have changed, with both the CARES Act and the SECURE Act affecting distributions from retirement plans and IRAs, and offering new opportunities for:
- family transfer of wealth
- special needs planning
- business planning.
Add estate planning to your pandemic survival resolution list!
– by Cara Chittenden, Associate Attorney at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates