Estate plans should be reviewed periodically to ensure that their objectives are still being met. And now, with major changes in the tax code that affect estates, it’s important that you revisit your estate plan as soon as you can.
In general, here are guidelines as to why and when you should take another probing look into how you can best pass your assets to your beneficiaries and charities of your choice.
- Tax laws change ― The tax law passed at the beginning of the year made estate tax provisions permanent, with the estate tax exemption amount set at $5,250,000 for 2013 (subject to changes for inflation in the future) and the maximum estate tax rate at 40%. Without reviewing and redesigning your estate plan in view of these changes, it’s almost a certainty that should you or your spouse die this year, there will be some unplanned consequences and missed opportunities. And none of this even takes into account any new or proposed changes in any state inheritance tax you may be subject to
- Asset values change ― Even more dramatic than the state of the U.S. tax code, asset values have undergone their most dizzying changes since World War II. As a result, the total value of assets in estates and funded trusts may have shrunk or expanded significantly and may now be way out of tune with the new unified credit exemptions.
- Life changes ― Are you and your spouse earning the same amount of money and in the same health as you were the last time your estate plan was finalized? Are you still married to the same person? Do you still have the same number of children and heirs? Such changes may happen as often as several times a year, and if you have a backlog of changes not yet reflected in your plan, there’s no good reason to wait any longer.
- Causes change ― If charitable giving is part of your plan, there are several reasons it may need to be updated. The causes you want to support may have changed, new charities may have arisen that interest you, or the financial state of the charities you support may have become more dire or more flush.
Despite the fact that an estate plan deals with your passing, to be consistent with your wishes and concerns, the best guideline is to consider it a living document that needs periodic reassessment. Please call if you would like to discuss this in more detail.
Copyright © Integrated Concepts 2013. Some articles in this newsletter were prepared by Integrated Concepts, a separate, nonaffiliated business entity. This newsletter intends to offer factual and up-to-date information on the subjects discussed, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. The appropriate professional advisers should be consulted before implementing any options presented. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of this material.