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October Thoughts

Greetings All.     I hope you are all staying safe, in a way that doesn’t drive you mad.    (Not a joke, as the incidents of domestic violence have increased.)  We stopped washing the groceries quite a while back, but are still as reason and hopefully good judgment permits, diligently social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands, and doing the other things understood to slow the spread of the virus.    We recognize how lucky we have been, to be able to say the virus has been a pretty big inconvenience to us, but not more than that, and we know how much worse it has been for those who have suffered from the disease, and those who have lost their jobs.     We are all in each other’s hands.   And we are grateful to those who provide our health care (including in nursing homes), and work in the grocery stores and schools, and all those who work to provide us with services in ways that put them at heightened risk, many of them in lower paying jobs.

Laugh of the month….when I realized our puppy and I were both on the same antibiotic for respiratory / sinus / congestion issues.    Even better, when he discovered he could make an alternate use of the protective cover over our swimming pool as a doggy trampoline!

We are all tiring of taking virus precautions, but how important it is we keep doing so.    Since it can be spread by persons who are not showing any symptoms, just think of how hard it is prevent the spread.  We all need to act as if we are infected generally speaking, to protect others.

We have as possible since the spring held meetings with clients outdoors, or on the phone, or video / zoom / facetime and we’ll continue with that, but not all meetings can be held that way and especially so as the cold weather comes.     We have researched air cleaner units and bought one, and will probably buy more.     Our Groton office has a fairly spacious meeting room with good ventilation where we can sit far apart, and I expect we will be making more use of it (and maybe wearing coats and scarves… we meet w clients with some fresh air coming in.)

Some months ago the Governor issued an Executive Order (7Q) to allow some documents to be signed and notarized over a video communication process (think Zoom), to reduce the spread of the virus, and while most attorneys (including ourselves) have avoided using that process for estate planning documents (because it is practically impossible to use it properly due to the requirements for many clients) recently I used it for a client in the hospital.   The hospital was very helpful and we got the work done, but it was somewhat nerve wracking.   We’ve tried to get the Governor to ease the procedural requirements, but so far unsuccessfully, as it is a somewhat complicated issue.

Those with very large estates should have their estate plans reviewed and possibly revised before the end of the year, as there is talk that if the administration changes, the current very high estate tax exemption amounts (over 11 million dollars per person at the federal level) could be significantly reduced by legislation next year, possibly retroactively to January 1, 2020.   The talk is that it may be smart for those with estates over whatever the exemption might be reduced to, to use those large exemption amounts this year by making gifts, essentially.   These are complex issues and will need some significant work to address, for those concerned.

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