Even if you only recently assembled an estate plan, it is probably time to review and possibly amend it. With the passage of the recent tax reform laws, many estate plans created over the last several decades are now significantly uncalibrated to fully take advantage of the new rules and exemptions.
One of the most significant changes that estate planning professionals see causing major shifts in estate planning strategies is the doubled exemption for married couples. Just twenty years ago, the exemption was merely $600,000 per couple, but that limit has been rising steadily over the last twenty years. Until the passage of the most recent laws, couples could exempt up to $11 million between them, and that is now doubled to a staggering $22 million per couple. For most estates, this is more than enough of an exemption.
So, why should we review our estate plans? Practically speaking, many of the complex tax-avoidance tools estate planners have used for decades to reduce estate tax obligations are no longer necessary, and may only complicate matters. Even if it is not useful to rebuild your entire estate plan, it is important to understand that these change-overs often create unanticipated tensions between existing legal tools and newly available legal tools.
If you do not fully review your estate plan, your estate may find itself in a complicated legal grey area that may tie up your assets for a significant amount of time and keep your beneficiaries from receiving payouts from your estate. Furthermore, the longer it takes to determine how to properly handle your estate after you pass away, the greater the drain on your resources. Don’t wait to revisit your estate plan and make sure you are fully taking advantage of all the tools you have available.