Estate and Trust Planning Issues for COVID-19

With the recent turmoil in the financial markets, you have undoubtedly been spending a great deal of time managing and calming your clients’ expectations and fears regarding their portfolios and financial future. As coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to saturate the media, you may have also noted a significant rise in clients’ anxiety level about estate planning and their own mortality.

In addition to the barrage of “doomsday” prognostications, clients are also struggling to understand the recent SECURE Act and how it will affect their retirement and estate planning. Adding to that anxiety, research indicates:

  • 60% of U.S. adults do not have a will;
  • 70% of U.S. adults do not have an estate plan; and
  • 40% of affluent investors rate having no estate plan as their biggest concern.

Financial advisors typically don’t provide legal advice, so it is critical that you have a referral association with a local estate planning firm that understands and respects your role in the client’s trusted circle of service providers. Additionally, you should strive to be included in any estate planning conversations as to your ongoing role with the client and their family.

As your client’s preferred investment advisor, be prepared to address many of these recently escalating concerns that often range far beyond managing portfolio risk and asset allocation.

One often overlooked topic you should be comfortable discussing is medical decision documents. These include:

  • Healthcare directive – What healthcare measures do you want if you become incapacitated?
  • Healthcare durable power of attorney – Who do you want to make decisions if you are incapacitated?
  • HIPAA authorization – Allows healthcare providers to share information with your decision makers

More than one-third of U.S. adults do not have a healthcare directive. Regardless of marital status, these are all very important documents for any client over the age of 18.