Presidents, Pandemics and Planning: A look to 2021 from the Lessons of 2020-Introduction

When historians study the 21st century, it is almost certain that the events of 2020 will be seen as a major moment in time.  At all levels of society throughout the world and here at home, the world has been forced to rapidly change due to this first pandemic of most people’s lives.  While there is some hope that the cure/vaccine for COVID-19 is imminent, the long-term effects of this event will be with us for many years and perhaps decades to come.

For trusts and estates practitioners, we have seen the way we work both in the planning and administration of estates significantly change over the last twelve months.  These changes are likely to increase as we determine how best to serve our clients and how the recent changes made by New York state and the New York Surrogate’s Court will affect our means of advising and assisting clients beyond the end of the pandemic.

In addition, with the recent Presidential election bringing a new party to the Executive Branch and potentially to lead Congress, changes to federal laws may usher in a new series of challenges regarding estate, gift and income tax planning.  The change of political party atop our government comes at a time when additional revenue will have to be generated to help the United States recover from the pandemic as well as the ensuing economic decline.

Over the next few days, I will discuss how to approach 2021 with the lessons of 2020 in mind.  First, I will discuss how the 2020 Federal and New York elections may reshape the tax implications for estates, trusts and individuals.  Next, I will look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed estate planning and estate administration in New York.  Finally, I will discuss the long-term implications of the events of 2020 with an eye to mapping out planning strategies for 2021 and beyond.

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