The COVID-19 Pandemic and Personal Planning

May 27, 2020
Firm Publication

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the lives of millions across the globe, causing the loss of loved ones and livelihoods and heightening concerns for health and personal and financial safety. In these uncertain times, it’s important to make sure that wills and estate plans are in good order, and that appropriate choices have been made in selecting guardians for minor children, executors, and trustees and powers of attorney for healthcare and financial matters.

Additionally, while the pandemic has adversely affected financial markets and resulted in sharp declines in values of businesses, securities, and real estate, these reduced values (and the higher estate tax exemptions that are now in place) may offer tax planning opportunities through a variety of planning techniques, such as grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), spousal limited access trusts (SLATs), low-interest intra-family loans, installment sales, and other wealth transfer strategies that are designed to shift the future appreciation in undervalued assets to lower generations at little or no tax cost.

While the execution of estate planning documents during the time of social distancing has been challenging (since witnesses and notaries may be required), Tennessee Governor Lee’s Executive Order Number 37 now permits the remote witnessing and notarization of most such documents. “Socially distanced” execution of these important documents can now be achieved via Zoom and other such platforms. Accordingly, the implementation of estate plans has been greatly facilitated.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control during this time of national crisis. However, challenges often present opportunities. Uninterrupted time at home can allow you to take stock of what is important to you and your family. If you would like assistance with your personal planning, please contact one of our tax and estate planning attorneys.

Also, please be sure to consult the Bass, Berry & Sims COVID-19 Resource Center for articles and the latest information about new laws and directives enacted by federal, state and local governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.