by Letha Sgritta McDowell, CELA
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last week, you undoubtedly know that America is still reeling from the election. Regardless of your political view, the fact that a reality television star is going to be the next POTUS is surreal.
Many attorneys are now wondering how the President-elect's policies (backed by a conservative Congress) will change their practice. Perhaps they are even concerned that their skills will soon be obsolete.
Those of us who practice in the area of elder law and special needs planning have some real concerns about what will happen to programs for seniors and the disabled under a conservative President and Congress. There is a real possibility that the Affordable Care Act may be repealed. The focus in the media has largely been skyrocketing premiums and insurance exchanges, however the ACA also allowed millions of people with disabilities to get health insurance since plan providers were no longer allowed to exclude individuals based on pre-existing conditions. Changing this would be devastating to those individuals. However, President-elect Trump has said that he is in favor of requiring insurance companies to continue to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. So maybe this isn’t as terrible as we had initially anticipated.
It also seems logical that a conservative Congress may be in favor of cutting entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. But President-elect Trump said that he doesn’t plan on cutting entitlement programs. He likewise supports increasing services offered to those with mental illness (although he doesn’t say where the funds will come from to pay for those services).
For attorneys who are estate tax planners, news of an estate tax repeal has permeated every part of their office. President-elect Trump has proposed a complete repeal and he has a conservative Congress to back him up on that. What will all of us tax planners do then? Completely repealing the estate tax seems unlikely. Senate Democrats have the ability to filibuster to block the passing of bills, and 60 Senate votes are required to end a filibuster, however there are only 51 Republicans who will sit in that chamber in January. It isn’t time to throw the computer and calculator out the window just yet.
The bottom line is that no, this isn’t the time to panic. It is much too early to determine accurately how law and policy will change. One man does not make a government. Even if the public policy apocalypse does come about and the estate tax is repealed and Medicaid dollars and programs are cut, us attorneys (and I am inclusive of elder law, special needs planning, and estate planning) will still have work to do. Wealthy people will still need wills and trusts and to protect their wealth from potential creditors or the creditors of their offspring. There will still be spendthrift children and ex-in-laws. People with disabilities will still need advocacy and assistance accessing services (perhaps then more than ever). Seniors will still need access to services and assistance in asset protection, estate planning, surrogate decision making, and everything else which is part of aging. The legal world will not end, we will still be employed, we may just look at clients and their problems through a new lens.
Keep up to date on what is changing and how to position your practice for continued success by connecting with us at InterActive Legal.