This is a Perfect Time to Review Estate Planning and to Know How the CARES Act Affects Retirement Plan Distributions


By:  Bradford E. Cook

April 17, 2020

If you are like me, working from home has resulted in early garden clean-up, tidying up the garage and putting things in order, reading the rest of unfinished books, and having more time to confuse the pets by being around so much.  For many of our clients, it has been a time to think about other unfinished business, and they have been in contact with our estate planning attorneys to review, update or start estate planning, now that they have the time to “get around to that.”  It is an ideal time to get this necessary work done, while there still is time on our hands before life gets back to relative normal.

Luckily for us all, this can be done remotely, with phone or video conferencing, e-mailed draft documents, and the remote notary service allowed by state executive order.  We welcome calls or e-mails from existing clients or others needing to update their documents or to commence the process.

For all of us, and possibly over-looked in the federal legislation passed to deal with the crisis, are those provisions addressing individual tax benefits, including those related to retirement plans.  Under the CARES Act, up to $100,000 can be withdrawn from qualified retirement plans, including IRA’s, for virus-related expenses, with favorable tax treatment, waiver of the 10% early withdrawal penalty for those under 59 1/2, and if repaid, the repayment will be treated as a tax-free roll-over, if done within three years.  If not repaid, the amount will be taxed over the three-year period, and not all at once.

Loans from qualified plans in amounts up to $100,000, twice the regular amount, are allowed, if made within 180 days after March 27, 2020.

For those required to take minimum contributions from plans such as 401(k) and IRA’s, the minimum contribution requirement is waived for 2020, including for those who turned 70 ½ in 2019 but had not taken the first distribution, for both the 2019 and 2020 distributions.  For those who have already taken a 2020 distribution, it can be repaid without counting as income, if rolled back within 60 days.  There are other waivers made in the law, so those interested should consult one of our estate planning attorneys or their tax consultants.

Members of our estate planning team are happy to help.  Please contact Bradford Cook at; Michael Panebianco at; or Madeline Hutchings at