We are in unprecedented times as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our normal, everyday lives. While our first priority is the health and safety of our employees and clients, we have implemented recommended safety precautions so that we remain open to assist you with any questions or estate planning needs. All of our attorneys are either working remotely or, when necessary, meeting with clients in person subject to the specific guidelines provided by the Governor’s office.

Tax Returns. The IRS has extended the federal filing and payment deadlines to July 15, 2020 for individuals, businesses and trusts required to file tax returns otherwise due on April 15th. This extension applies for each taxpayer up to a $1 million maximum payment (joint return is considered one taxpayer for purposes of the extension). The maximum deferral applies, in the aggregate, to any combination of 2019 income taxes and 2020 first quarter estimated tax payments otherwise due on April 15th. Interest, penalties, and additions to tax will not accrue until July 16, 2020 on amounts not exceeding the $1 million limitation. The State of Connecticut has similarly extended both the filing and payment of tax until July 15, 2020. Please note, however, that this extension to file and for payment does not apply to federal and Connecticut estate and gift tax returns.

Estate Planning Documents. It is always wise to periodically review your estate planning documents. Specifically, review your power of attorney and health care directives to make sure you have named both a primary and alternate person who is willing to serve. Additionally, inform your family members as to where you keep your documents and provide a contact information list of essential people (health care providers, insurance agent, attorney, accountant, etc.), in case needed.

Beneficiary Designations and Titling of Assets. Review your beneficiary designations for certain assets, such as IRAs and life insurance policies, to confirm you have named a primary and contingent beneficiary. If your estate plan includes a revocable or living trust agreement, you may consider transferring assets into the trust so that your estate plan can be implemented in an expedited manner.

Estate Planning Strategies. Finally, as a result of low interest rates and the downturn in the financial markets, some clients may want to consider more advanced planning opportunities, such as loans to family members, a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) or an outright gift of marketable securities. The implementation of these strategies, together with the substantial increase in both state and federal estate/gift tax exemptions over the past few years, may result in considerable transfer tax savings.

While the current global health crisis is on all of our minds, a quick review of your estate plan and financial assets will hopefully provide some reassurance during this challenging time.

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