In my 20-year career at American Heart Association, I have answered numerous questions about estate planning from many of our generous supporters. I have also had multiple discussions with many professional advisors I work with who have had questions about charitable estate planning vehicles. As we know, the idea of planning one’s estate can be a reminder of one’s mortality. As a result, to the frustration of those who work in estate planning, this can pause the planning process – then along came COVID-19. At the American Heart Association, like many other organizations, we are seeing an uptick in estate planning because of COVID-19. It has caused many people to realize life can change on a dime, and they need to be prepared. At the very least, people recognize at the bare minimum they should have an advanced health care directive and a power of attorney for finance.
While many recognize the personal need for these documents, they may not be aware of another need for them: WealthManagement.com, an online publication for wealth advisors, recently published an article about a new trend in estate planning. Clients with college-bound children are establishing advanced health care directives and power of attorneys for them. Why? Recent data shows that this group is now a primary spreader of COVID-19. According to the article, the need for these documents is not novel, but necessary. COVID-19 has brought the reality of illness front and center for many clients; therefore, underscoring the importance of these documents. Because they are state-specific to where they will be used, the article suggests that now is a good time for advisors to have the estate planning conversation with their clients.
We know the estate planning conversation can be a sensitive topic to bring up, but legacy planning can be the perfect counterweight to ease them. If you have clients who are passionate about supporting the causes close to their hearts, philanthropy can be a good way to focus on estate planning through a lens of planning their legacy – or rather how they can impact and save lives. Request our Impact Guide now and use it as a road map with your clients as you talk them through their options.
Carl A. Wayne, JD
Senior Advisor, Charitable Estate Planning
American Heart Association