This summer, take time with your family to reflect on your overall wealth plan.

Summer has arrived and this year is likely to look and feel different from previous years as we settle into a new normal. That makes now a great time for everyone to step back, really look at where we, and our families, are—and think about what we’d like our future to be.   

To help you make the most of that reflection, we offer four important action areas that might be helpful in your summer days.

At the height of this spring’s COVID-19 uncertainty, it was extremely important that you made sure your wealth planning essentials were in place: key documents (wills, health care proxies, etc.), key people (executors, guardians, trustees, etc.) and liquidity for your loved ones

Now you may have more time and attention to devote to your overall plan—checking that all its parts are working together to achieve your goals. Such a check-in can include reviewing how you’ve titled different assets and accounts as well as examining the structures (such as trusts) you have in place to ensure that assets go where you intend.

Whether you’re just getting started organizing your wealth plans or haven’t reviewed existing plans in a while, you might like to see our simple guide: How to create a sound estate plan.

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government has implemented a number of important changes to law and regulations that you may want to focus on now. For example:

  • Retirement accounts: Many were aware of the IRS’s extension to file 2019 taxes from April 15 to July 15. What may have been missed, from the CARES Act,1 is that required minimum distributions from retirement accounts were waived for this year and restrictions were loosened on accessing retirement account funds.
  • New benefits: Similarly, there was a lot of focus on the business relief provisions in the CARES Act, but there also were key provisions for individuals such as significant opportunities for business principals to claim losses on their personal returns, and enhanced charitable deductions (which could fully offset your income this year for eligible contributions).

Even some changes implemented in 2019, such as SECURE Act changes impacting inherited IRAs, might have been something you had on your to-do list for this year but put on hold as other issues were more urgent.

Whatever your situation is, now may be a good time to connect with your J.P. Morgan team to discuss which, if any, of these changes might be relevant to you.

Summer is often a time to gather with family. Even if the pandemic may limit your BBQs or travel plans, there are ways you can foster family cohesion and communication—from using technology in new ways to connect with family far and wide, to group projects (such as creating a family tree or compiling a family history), to writing a letter of wishes and sharing that letter with loved ones.2

This year, children of all ages have had very different school experiences: at-home and online. Parents and grandparents interested in engaging young minds and supplementing formal education may want to create some compelling lessons about money. For example, together you might explore:

  • How to give wisely: The family might discuss charitable gifting and make some giving decisions together as a way to share family values and help children learn to evaluate charities.
  • How to invest and handle money: For older children, consider an investment game, something that is easily facilitated at home while helping to expand the child’s skillset around handling money.

Please reach out to your J.P. Morgan team to dive into the Children and Wealth Workbook for guidance and tips on how to navigate these conversations.

Earlier in the year, market volatility created conditions that made it more difficult to navigate both investment and planning decisions. Volatility has abated for now and you may want to consider whether you might use current market conditions to further your financial goals. For example:

  • Do you own securities that haven’t fully recovered their value? Consider gifting them to family members before their asset values increase.3 That way, you will have used less of your lifetime gift tax exclusion to move money into your heirs’ hands.
  • What if your positions have recovered? You may want to speak with your J.P. Morgan team about gifting those appreciated positions to charities, many of which are in particular need due to the crisis.

Also, consider the impact low rates have on your overall wealth picture and what opportunities they may present. Now is a great time to review your liquidity needs to see if there are opportunities to restructure your cash so it works harder for you.

Conversely, low rates create opportunities not only to tactically fix rates lower on existing loans but also to borrow more strategically to promote your goals. For example, low “Applicable Federal Rates,” which are used in planning strategies, can be used both to amplify your gifting strategies and to facilitate loans to family members.

Right now, the summer pause is here and there’s time not only to enjoy with your family but also to reflect on your wealth plans. Your J.P. Morgan team is here to work with you to create a plan or revise and refine the plans you already have to help reach your goals.

1 The CARES Act is formally titled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748).

2 A letter of wishes often serves as a document that a grantor writes to explain his or her intentions in creating a trust. This letter accompanies the trust and is primarily intended to offer guidance to (but not legally bind) the trustee. Grantors can share these letters with the trust beneficiaries so that everyone is fully aware of the grantors’ hopes for the uses of the funds provided by the trust.

3 Assets held at a loss should not be gifted as the recipient generally will be unable to claim the loss for tax purposes.