Even though the drug remdesivir received emergency use authorization for treating hospitalized coronavirus patients, stocks fell on the first day of May amid disappointing earnings reports and growing tensions between China and the U.S. The day before, the market ended April with its best monthly surge in over 30 years, with the S&P up 12.7 percent and the Dow up 11.1 percent for the month. For the week, the Dow fell 0.22 percent to close at 23,723.69. The S&P lost 0.19 percent to finish at 2,830.71, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.33 percent to end the week at 8,604.95.
Returns Through 5/01/20
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)
NASDAQ Composite (PR)
S&P 500 (TR)
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)
MSCI EAFE (TR)
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.
In the Year 2034 — Social Security trustees announced on April 22 that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security benefits (OASI retirement benefits) would be zero in 2034. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but rather would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels through the year 2095. When the trustees released their report in 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund was projected to be depleted in 2040 (source: Social Security Trustees 2020 Report, BTN Research).
Just Sitting Somewhere — 64 percent of the commercial aircrafts operated by airlines worldwide have been removed from daily usage and are in storage (source: Upgraded Points, BTN Research).
People Are Not Spending — Retail sales in the United States in March declined 8.7 percent from the previous month to $483 billion. The worst month-over-month decline in retail sales during the 2008-2010 mortgage crisis was a drop of just 3 percent in December 2008 (source: Census Bureau, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Estate Planning in a Pandemic
While the majority of the 60,000 U.S. deaths caused by the coronavirus have been individuals at higher risk due to age or pre-existing health conditions, we have all seen reports of younger, seemingly healthy men and women who have become very ill and in some cases, even succumbed to COVID-19.
Witnessing a new virus turn life upside down in such a short time demonstrates the importance of having a thorough, up-to-date estate plan. Considering how difficult – if not impossible – it could be to create estate documents during the isolation imposed on COVID hospital patients creates an even greater urgency. In addition to being isolated, seriously ill patients may be put into a medically induced coma, so they can be connected to a ventilator. Without an advanced care directive or a health care proxy, the patient won’t be able to influence their care.
If you have an advanced care directive, you may want to make sure ventilation is only ruled out in situations that appear hopeless – since thousands of COVID patients have been saved through intubating. A HIPAA Authorization should also be included in health care directives to ensure medical professionals can share information with a designated family member – crucial if a health system is overwhelmed and staff have little time to work out privacy issues.
In addition to health-related documents, even a basic estate plan should include a durable power of attorney (POA) to handle financial matters, a letter with instructions and final thoughts to loved ones and a simple will designating an executor and directing the distribution of assets. It’s important to ensure the will agrees with beneficiary designations on all accounts and wise to ask your financial institutions if they require their own POA form.
While working with an attorney is always the ideal, sites like FiveWishes.org, MyDirectives.com, LegalZoom.com and LawDepot.com can help you create a temporary solution in this crisis. But social distancing may make getting documents witnessed and notarized difficult. Some states allow online notarization using webcam. If yours doesn’t, you can probably sign documents inside your car with a notary witnessing through the windshield. Some states even accept unwitnessed, handwritten wills.
We can work with you, your attorney and your accountant to ensure your current estate plans take into consideration all the wills and won’ts you desire. Call our office to schedule a virtual appointment with us and your other trusted advisors. Securities America and its representatives do not provide legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3070672.1