With a new year upon us it is time evaluate the things that we revisit annually and start to schedule some appointments. As estate planning attorneys we would like to think that our clients are all very proactive about scheduling estate plan reviews, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
It is human nature to put off the things that “can wait,” and when it comes to your estate you certainly hope that the triggering event is not approaching any time soon. Many people tend to think that they have plenty of time to make adjustments, and they may, but looking at it that way in akin to gambling. Plus, opportunities can be lost when you are not prepared to be reactive when it comes to your estate plan.
It is probably a good idea to review your estate plan every year, but it is a must for many people this year. As we reported right after it happened, there have been changes to the tax laws for 2011 and 2012 that affect the estate tax parameters. Throughout the 2010 calendar year the estate tax exclusion rate was scheduled to be just $1 million, and the top rate was to be 55%. This was in place via a schedule that dated back to 2001, so this is the figure that your estate planning attorney would have been working with for 2011 going back several years.
However, the new bill that was signed into law by the president on December 17th calls for an increase in the exclusion up to $5 million for single taxpayers and $10 million for couples. Plus, the top rate of taxation has been shaved down to 35%. So if you have not visited your estate planning attorney in a while, now would be the time to schedule a consultation given the profound changes in the tax laws.