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Think back to the beginning of the year, the economy was doing well, and there was great optimism for the rest of 2020. It all changed quickly in March with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For most of us, 2020 has been a very long year filled with uncertainty and anxiety. Next year holds even more uncertainty due to the potential change of power in Washington. The control of the Senate will not be decided until early January. If the Democratic Party takes control of the Senate, many experts anticipate major changes in the Estate and Gift tax laws. In light of this potential political shift, 2021 will be a great time to review your current estate plan and long-term planning goals.

It is certainly easy to procrastinate when it comes to estate planning, but unfortunately, some aspects of our lives are out of our control. We can, however, control the financial picture we leave behind. Remember, your estate plan isn’t for you – it is for your family and loved ones, as they will be the ones who suffer most without it. We do not want to create an additional emotional and financial burden on our families with our passing. It is difficult enough to deal with the loss but leaving behind an inadequate estate plan can exacerbate the pain.

My recommendation is for you to make estate planning a part of your New Year’s resolutions. Be proactive with your tax planning as you never know what life-altering event may lay ahead. This is no easy undertaking. The decisions you need to make can be complex and confusing, and it is easy to push these off until next month, next year, etc., and before you know it, it could be too late.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have an estate plan?
  • Am I confident in my current estate plan?
  • When was the last time the plan was reviewed?
  • If something happens tomorrow, will my wishes be carried out with no burden on my family?
  • Will my legacy live on?

If you cannot answer the above with full confidence, then make it a priority to get your estate plan reviewed as soon as possible. While 2020 has brought so much heartache due to COVID-19, use this circumstance as a wake-up call to get your estate plan in order. You will always be at peace knowing your family and loved ones will be taken care of if anything were to happen to you.

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Phil Booth, CPA, is a Partner in Moore Colson’s Tax Practice. Phil’s primary responsibilities are tax planning, research and compliance for business owners and high-net-worth families through the use of sophisticated estate and gift transfer tax techniques.

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