BOSTON — If 2020 and now 2021 taught us anything it’s that mortality is inevitable, and that lesson is what has business at record levels for estate p
BOSTON — If 2020 and now 2021 taught us anything it’s that mortality is inevitable, and that lesson is what has business at record levels for estate planners.
“Our estate planning probably went up 100% if I had to say, at least, double, at least,” said Angelique Eliopoulos Esq. of Eliopoulos & Eliopoulos, PC. “I’ve been practicing 15 years. I would say now is by far the busiest I’ve ever been with estate planning.”
It’s the conversation that no one wants to have but we all need to, and the seemingly never-ending increase in COVID deaths changed a lot of minds. Not just for creating trusts and wills, but even life insurance.
“Whenever there’s an event, like, a mass loss of life involved naturally, the interest increases,” said Amy Hennessey of Securian Financial.
“For example, we saw it after 9/11, and of course, we’re seeing it now as a result of this pandemic. In fact, a recent survey from LIMRA found that 29% of Americans said they’re more likely to buy insurance now in the next 12 months because of COVID. The interest has broadened across ages because of the pandemic, where before I think people tend to think more about it as they aged, but now even younger people are as well.”
While estate planners and life insurance agents saw major increases in the last year, they also saw families who signed up too late.
“Sometimes people don’t know that when you’re 18-plus, you need a health care proxy,” Eliopoulos said. “So we were doing those on a complimentary basis for anybody that needed them. At the very least they could have that in place because, unfortunately, we saw the flip side that clients would get sick, or loved ones, and it was too late if they didn’t have those documents in place.”
She said these really aren’t documents that people should be drafting themselves. They have to be very specific and have to be witnessed and notarized.
The two things guaranteed in life are death and taxes, and Joshua Caswell of Howland Evangelista Kohlenberg LLP said those two things are creating record business for estate planners.
“The end of 2020 was the busiest I’ve ever been in the 9 or so years doing this,” Caswell said. “It’s probably a combination of both. For the wealthier people, I think definitely the tax changes.”
Estate planning attorneys said even though President Joe Biden’s proposal is not yet law, many people fear if it is, they will not be able to pass down as much money to their kids anymore.
“Current federal estate tax exemption is $11.7 million per person and President Biden’s proposal during his campaign was to lower that to $3.5 million per person so a reduction of $8,000,000 plus per person, which at 40% tax rate is a pretty big, pretty significant.”
They said the planning now isn’t for you as much as it is for your loved ones.
“A health care proxy costs $150. It takes five minutes for that same thing where you’re appointing another person to step in your shoes and make your health care decisions. You don’t have that. You’re sending someone you love in a very traumatic time to spend six months in court and thousands of dollars to get the same results.”
She said you also run the risk of having a person you didn’t choose to play that role or to be beneficiaries of your assets.
We saw 3.2 million deaths worldwide, including 577,000 here in the U.S., and they said it’s a sad reality many of those people died suddenly without life insurance or any estate planning, making their family’s loss that much harder.
If you don’t’ have an estate attorney, any financial advisor will likely have a good referral and many attorneys offer a complimentary consultation.
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