Another New Year is quickly approaching, and many people make resolutions when the next chapter begins. This is a great tradition, and although a lot of folks do not keep their resolutions, there are those that follow through on them.
In addition to personal improvements, individuals often use the new year as a landmark reminding them that they have certain incremental responsibilities to address.
You should definitely apply this this principle to your existing estate plan. Far too many people procrastinate before they put an initial estate plan in place. In many cases, when they finally do take action, they breathe a sigh relief, stash the documents in a lock box or desk drawer, and put the matter behind them.
That first estate plan is going to be based a snapshot of your life as it existed at the time of its creation. Invariably, life changes come down the pike. There can be additions or subtractions to your family, and you may experience a change in marital status. These are all events that would call for an estate plan update.
Another thing to take into consideration is potential estate tax exposure. If you were responsible enough to establish an estate plan when you were a relatively young adult, you may have been in the early stages of your career path. Over the years, you may have been able to accumulate considerable wealth on your own, and relatives may have left you inheritances.
The estate tax exclusion is the amount that can be transferred before the estate tax would become applicable. On the federal level, the exclusion is $11.4 million in 2019, and the maximum rate is 40 percent. Here in New York, there is a state-level estate tax to contend with as well.
The exclusion is right around half of the federal exclusion, and it carries a 16 percent maximum rate. Because of the lower exclusion, it would be possible to face exposure on the state level even if you are exempt on the federal level.
There are steps that can be taken to gain estate tax efficiency, but there would have been no reason to take them if you were not exposed when the first plan was devised. This is another reason why your estate plan should be reviewed incrementally.
In addition to things that happen within your own life, there can be societal changes that render your existing estate plan obsolete. One example would be the relatively recent Supreme Court decision that led to the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Changes in tax laws can also be part of the equation.
If you always make sure that your estate plan is up-to-date, you can go forward with the knowledge that your family members will be provided for in the optimal manner after you are gone. On the other hand, when you know that changes should be made and you drag your feet, if the unthinkable takes place, people that you love may pay a heavy price.
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We do everything possible to provide educational opportunities for people in the communities that we serve. There is a great deal of information on this website, and our attorneys also hold
informative workshops on an ongoing basis. There are a number of dates coming up in the near future, and you can learn a lot if you sit in on the session that fits into your schedule.
To obtain details and registration information, visit our seminar page and click on the link below the date that is right for you.
Schedule a Consultation!
If you have not updated your estate plan for years or even decades, it is probably outdated in one way or another. You should definitely come into the office and have a discussion with one of our attorneys. We will gain an understanding of your current situation, examine the existing documents, and make the appropriate recommendations.
Of course, if you have never put an estate plan in place, action is definitely required, and our doors are wide open. To schedule a consultation there is a contact form on this website that you can use to send us a message if you would prefer to reach out electronically.