A long time ago, the musical group Classics IV told us that love was “kind of” spooky. Today it feels like the whole world is more “spooky” than ever.
This year has forced us to deal with so much confusion and anxiety:
- How much longer will the pandemic last?
- If someone in my family gets sick, will my insurance cover it?
- How will changes brought on by the pandemic affect my retirement and financial plans?
- Is my estate ready in case of an emergency?
- How can I benefit from the changes in the markets that have occurred this year?
The uncertainty can be challenging, but being prepared and having a plan in place helps reduce those “spooky” feelings. In light of the events of 2020, there has never been a better time to review your estate, insurance, and financial planning documents. Recently enacted regulations such as the SECURE Act and the CARES Act can significantly impact current and future financial decisions.
Even though it may seem quicker and cheaper to look online for sample estate planning documents and attempt to do it yourself, there are details and possible pitfalls that make using an experienced estate planning attorney a much wiser choice. A good estate plan can save an immense amount of money. This is not a time to “fee-shop” as even small mistakes or oversights can subject you and your loved ones to unnecessary and potentially costly consequences.
Not having an estate plan in place is an even scarier proposition. Let’s have a conversation about all the elements of a good plan - items such as a will, a trust (if desired), power of attorney, and health directives that will allow you to express your wishes in case you are unable to verbalize them.
When was the last time we reviewed the beneficiary designations on your IRA and retirement accounts? One common mistake is designating a beneficiary who is a minor. Unfortunately, children under the age of 18 are considered incompetent in the eyes of the law. A minor child cannot access assets such as an IRA, life insurance policy, and bank account, and the courts may end up requiring a guardian to be named first before the resources can be made available.
Life Insurance Planning
Buying life insurance can be confusing. There are so many types of policies out there; how do you know which is right for you? Depending on your situation, life insurance with a long-term care option might be the better choice. If you are still employed, keep in mind that open enrollment is coming up soon. Let's review your options to make sure you take advantage of your employer’s basic and supplemental life insurance coverage.
As of January 1, 2020, the rules regarding inherited IRA’s significantly changed with the passing of the SECURE Act. Most extraordinary is that (except for a surviving spouse and a small handful of other exempt parties), required minimum distributions (RMD’s) stretched over the inheriting beneficiary’s lifetime are no longer possible. Any retirement account (401ks, 403(b)s, IRAs, and Roth IRAs) must be paid out entirely to the beneficiary within a 10-year period. This has some potentially significant tax implications for the recipients – if you find yourself in this situation, let’s schedule a time to meet and examine options.
News and Upcoming Events
October 1 – Start the FAFSA process for college-bound kids.
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
October 5 – November 2 - California early voting
October 13 – 30 – Texas early voting
October 15 – Tax Day for automatic 6-month extensions
October 15 - Medicare Open Enrollment begins. Between October 15 - December 7, eligible members can enroll or adjust Medicare coverage.
November 1 - Health Care Open Enrollment
November 3 – Election Day! Please vote.
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) – RMD's have been waived for 2020. Also, the beginning age for taking Required Minimum Distributions has now changed to 72. So no need to fret if you haven't taken one this year.
Financial Planning Articles of Interest:
|4 Ways Your Life Insurance Policy Can Benefit You While You're Living|
|4 Areas of Your Estate Plan to Review in Light of COVID-19|
|Two Big Retirement Rule Changes From the SECURE Act |
|A Guide to Trusts for Estate Planning|
Although 2020 has been a challenge, it's important to reflect on the positives that have come with the struggles. Many of us now have cleaner homes, shorter commutes, higher savings account balances, and perhaps stronger bonds with our neighbors and more time with those we love. In some respects, maybe life has gotten a little simpler. Even though the past few months have been challenging and spooky at times, I hope to shine a light along your path to help guide you on this crazy ride we call life.
Carolanne M. Chavanne, CFP