While there are many people who have taken the time to create an estate plan and devote time every year to keeping it current, others are not so conscientious. Some people created their estate plan years ago and have not taken any time to review it since.
While reviewing your plan usually isn’t on the top of your year’s to-do list, if you haven’t updated it recently you will want to do so as soon as possible.
If you don’t remember, the early part of 2013 saw some fairly important changes in estate planning, especially when it comes to the federal estate and gift tax rules. While Congress and the president argued, they eventually came to an agreement that has a long-lasting impact on estate planning. In 2013, it’s now possible for individual married couples to protect $10.5 million in assets from estate or gift taxes, or even more if you plan properly. However, many states, including New York, allow you to protect far less.
So, if you created an estate plan years ago when the federal estate and gift tax exemptions were much lower, or if your assets have changed or increased in value, it’s time to review your plan and see if you can take advantage of the new higher exemption.
Additionally, the top estate tax rate was also changed to 40%. Though this is not as high as some prior years, it is higher than it has been recently. If you created a plan that was using a higher or lower level as a factor in your calculations, you’ll also want to speak to your estate planning lawyer to see if there any benefits you can derive by planning around the new rate.