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Estate Planning Considerations During COVID-19

Resist the Urge to Try a D-I-Y Approach During These Challenging Times.

Article by Tom Winkler, JD, CPA

Photography by Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

In only a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to unforeseen hardships for many in our community. And with growing concerns, one topic that individuals and families have been calling our office about relates to estate planning. Despite disruption and change to our regular routine, all of us here at The Winkler Law Group remain committed to providing our clients with exceptional service while also remembering that we are still in the battle to heal and flatten the curve together. Our estate planning practice remains nimble in this rapidly-evolving environment by offering various strategies to consider in the wake of such volatility. We are offering flexible meeting times and methods (in our office, by phone/video, or via Zoom) to discuss and/or process any emergency documentation. Some planning issues or concerns you may want to analyze and discuss during this time include:

  1. Powers of Attorney for Healthcare or HIPAA Authorizations.
  2. Accommodation signors or co-owners to bank accounts or real estate.
  3. Trustees of a living trust (including appropriateness of co-trustees).
  4. Revising outright distributions—which are subject to creditor claims—in creditor protected trusts.
  5. Guardian designations.
  6. Special needs planning.
  7. Funding assets into an existing revocable (or living) trust.
  8. Documenting intra-family transactions such as loans.
  9. Lifetime gifting.
  10. Implications of recently-enacted laws such as the SECURE ACT and the Illinois Trust Code (both effective as of January 1, 2020).
  11. Verification of beneficiary designations on IRA’s.
  12. Tax implications (estate and income).
  13. Probate avoidance.
  14. Appropriateness of including "in terrorem" language (i.e. “you contest, you take nothing”) in your will or trust.

The Covid-19 crisis has made estate planning both more difficult and more necessary. Some may be tempted to prepare do-it-yourself estate planning documents; however, the risk with such documents may, in turn, result in unanticipated costs, disputes, fees and delay, and cause lasting financial and emotional consequences to those who matter most—your loved ones. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE YOUR EXISTING PLAN (BY MARKING IT UP OR USING AN INTERNET WILL) WITHOUT A LAWYER. Now, more than ever, it’s important that your estate plan be professionally prepared. We can help you make sure your plan is effective to meet your needs during these challenging times.

Contact Winkler Law at 847.466.5280 or visit