The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal that sees people forced to adjust to significant and, in many cases, unprecedented change. From the simplest of tasks to the complexities that come with substantial, life-altering decisions, coronavirus continues to play a role that likely will continue long after the virus is contained and a vaccine is found.
During an era that represents significant uncertainty, decision-making is fueled by a fear that impairs decision making. Strange days can result in rash decisions that could negatively impact estate planning desires.
Steps to Stabilize
Being forced to shelter in place has created opportunities to check off tasks in long-gestating “to-do” lists. However, even in the safest of environments, fear of the future can create rash decisions that impact estate planning desires in the years to come. Premature gifting of assets or tying assets up in a way that limits access can be the unintended result of such decisions. Letting the instability of the world creep into estate planning choices can undermine financial stability now and for subsequent generations.
The recent stock market numbers have made the most confident of investors nervous, if not panicked, to the post of flop sweat. Financial balances are down after a lengthy bull market. The temptation is to move investments around and change existing structures and strategies. That decision should only be made if significant personal changes have occurred in the form of life-altering events.
A strong financial foundation comes with an emergency account that focuses on living expenses and not large-scale purchases, mainly if a layoff has occurred. Savings in an accessible account that can provide stability for three to six months is ideal, or more if there is no income coming in.
Working with a financial professional can help beyond the technical nature of estate planning, particularly when fear and uncertainty rule. An objective arbiter can make clear-headed decisions as the chaos ensues, keeping an eye on goals, objectives, and timelines. Keeping up with periodic reviews is also paramount to ensure stability during unstable times. At Russ Cook and Associates, PC we welcome the opportunity to work with financial professionals to make sure client estate planning goals are met now and in the future.