Estate Planning Weekly COVID-19 Update – 01.12.21
This weekly COVID-19 update is brought to you by our Chambliss Estate Planning team. We are sharing articles, legal developments, external resources, and tips for coping during these uncertain times. Each weekly issue will cover various trends of vital interest in the world of estate planning, elder law, and special needs planning. To be added to our email list, please subscribe.
While many of us are working remotely, we are also collaborating to implement creative and resourceful solutions to meet the needs of our clients in this uniquely challenging time.
We are still doing planning consultations, document signings, care coordination, drafting of documents, and all related work—in sum, all the types of work we usually do. We have generally moved most meetings to either Zoom video conference or audio conference calls. In person document signings at our office are being done abiding carefully by social distancing protocols. Moreover, the governors of Tennessee and Georgia have signed executive orders which enable “virtual document signings” for a limited period of time.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can assist you with your elder law, special needs planning, or estate planning needs.
— Dana, Greg, and your Chambliss team
Scheduling Tennessee COVID-19 Vaccinations Online and Eligibility Updates for Surrounding Counties and States
By: Isiah Robinson
See below for important updates pulled directly from the Tennessee Department of Health’s update: TDH County Health Departments Offer COVID-19 Vaccination by Appointment.
Tennesseans can follow a simple, three-step process to learn when they’re eligible for vaccination and register for a vaccination appointment:
- Find Your Phase. Tennesseans can find out what phase of the vaccination plan they’re in by visiting https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/eligibility/.
- Find the Phase Your County Is Vaccinating. To learn what phase your county is vaccinating, visit https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/.
- Register for a Vaccination Appointment. People who are in a phase currently being vaccinated in their county can register online at https://covid19.tn.gov/covid-19-vaccines/vaccine-phases/ for an appointment time to receive a vaccination through their county health department. Click your county on the map and then click “Make an Appointment” to register. Those who register will be asked to enter their name and contact information to be notified of their appointment date, time, and location as soon as vaccine becomes available.
More Information can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Updates for Surrounding Counties and States
Please remember: each state has the flexibility to tailor recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for prioritizing vaccination. Therefore, the risk-based phases will vary in each state. Furthermore, each county’s vaccination within each state is limited by its vaccination supply. This means some counties will be further along in their vaccination phase than other counties, even if the counties are in the same state.
For information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution status and site locations in Tennessee and surrounding areas, including Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina, please click Read More.
Tax Changes Affecting Estate Planning After the Georgia Runoff – What Changes? When?
By: David Hunter
The possibility of tax changes impacting estate planning substantially increased following the recent Georgia runoff election. After January 20, the Democrats will control the House of Representatives, Senate (with Vice President-Elect Harris’ tie-breaking vote as President of the Senate), and White House. Although Democratic control of all three branches of the federal government could result in several changes to existing tax laws affecting estate planning (e.g., potential increase in individual and business income tax rates, elimination of the “step-up” in income tax basis on death, etc.), this update focuses on possible changes to the lifetime federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption amounts, related tax rates, and the anticipated date of any such changes.
The current lifetime federal estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption amounts (amounts individuals can transfer free of estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax over the course of his or her lifetime or at death) are $11.7 million per person ($23.4 million per married couple). These exemptions are the highest they have been since the modern estate tax was implemented in 1916. Transfers during lifetime or at death in excess of the above exemption amounts are currently taxed at a rate of 40%.
Although the current exemption amounts were never intended to be permanent (currently scheduled to be cut almost in half to about $6 million in 2026), the likelihood that exemption amounts will be substantially reduced greatly increased after the Georgia runoff election. Now that the Senate is split perfectly between parties, Vice President-Elect Harris is expected to cast any tie-breaking vote in a party-line Senate vote, which could reduce the exemption amounts. Vice President Cheney cast a similar tie-breaking vote that pushed through tax changes when the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act passed in 2003.
President-Elect Biden has proposed reducing the exemption amounts from $11.7 million to as low as $3.5 million and increasing the tax rate from 40% to 45% which translates to almost $4 million of additional tax on impacted individuals…
Click Read More for the full article.
Can You Visit Nursing Home Residents After They Are Vaccinated?
COVID vaccines are starting to roll out to nursing homes across the country, signaling the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Once your loved one has had both doses of the vaccine, you may be able to visit, but precautions are still necessary…
Also Check Out…
Tennessee Is First to Be Approved for Medicaid Block Grant
Tennessee has become the first state in the nation to be approved to receive funding in a lump sum for its Medicaid program through a block grant program, said Gov. Bill Lee. Click here to read the full announcement.
Tennessee Launches Hotline for Older Adults Feeling Isolated or in Need of Services During COVID-19 Pandemic
Tennessee state agencies are working to provide support for people who may feel isolated during the ongoing pandemic. The “TN Hope Line” is a partnership among the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board to launch a free hotline available at 844-600-8262. It is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST and involves volunteers trained in active listening. Click here for more information.
CDC Adds Down Syndrome to COVID-19 List of High Risk Conditions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added Down syndrome to its list of underlying conditions with an increased risk for serious COVID-19 complications. Down syndrome advocates had been calling for the change for months. Click here to read the full article.
ALS Disability Insurance Access Act Becomes Law, Work Remains to Implement
The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act went into law December 22, removing the five month delay for people with ALS to access the Social Security Disability benefits. The law will not go into effect immediately because the Social Security Administration must write rules for how it will be implemented, typically taking around 60 days following the signing of a bill. Click here to read more on ALS.org.
Vaccinated but Sick With COVID-19
Reports of post-vax infection are a reminder to keep on masking up and distancing, experts say. Some health care workers have reported falling ill with COVID-19 after getting their first vaccine dose – but that’s not a surprise, as protection can take as long as two weeks to kick in, researchers said. Read the full article on MedPage Today.
Early Plasma Tx Promising in Adults 65+ With Milder COVID-19
Older adults hospitalized with milder COVID-19 who received convalescent plasma showed lower risk of developing severe respiratory disease versus patients who received placebo, a randomized trial found. Read the full article on MedPage Today.
Coping With COVID-19
Six Socially-Distanced Winter Activities for Seniors
Winter is here, and most of us are experiencing colder temperatures. As even chillier weather rolls in, seniors become more limited in activities because they can’t spend as much time outdoors. The current pandemic is even further limiting to our older loved ones. So what can you do to spruce up the season and provide some safe enrichment and fun in their lives? Here are some ideas from ComForCare Home Care.
Have older adults and their families write a collective story. Give a pen and paper to a resident for a set time period (2-3 minutes), and then pass it on to the next person to continue.
Families and their older loved ones can play the “Think Twice in a Jar” game. A variation of “Would You Rather,” “Think Twice in a Jar” involves players pulling questions from a jar. These questions prompt players to make a choice, such as, “Would you rather listen to music or paint?” Have them answer the question, and then encourage them to explain why they chose the answer they did.
Older adults can engage in friendly competition, racing remote control cars around the home.
Personalized Activity Baskets
Seniors will love these because they’re tailored to their interests and abilities. For avid readers, families can consider putting together a basket with some books, perhaps some festive bookmarks, and some teas or flavored coffees. For skilled crafters, the basket may include colorful yarns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or items for a needlepoint project. For those with dementia, families can create a memory or rummage box that can help them reminisce.
Suggest a home movie night to older adults and families. They can pass out the popcorn and relax with a classic film.
For those who need physical activity, families can try Tai Chi, wall exercises, or short walks around the home.
You can take these activities and run with them or get creative and make up a dozen more. Either way, they should bring your residents and loved ones some excitement, and most importantly, allow them to feel a sense of warmth and connection.
Our Chambliss team continues to monitor legal developments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Please contact Jim Catanzaro, Justin Furrow, or your relationship attorney if you have questions or need additional information.