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Is it time to update your estate plan?

The last thing you want to do as an estate planner is to create your will and estate plan, then file it away and never look at it again. You should review your estate planning papers at least every five years, and preferably on an annual basis. Changes to your family and needs, and changes to state and federal estate laws, can all have an effect on your current estate plan and necessitate some changes.

Take the new estate planning rule relating to federal estate tax exemptions that went into effect in 2018 for example. The current estate tax exemption, as of 2018, is a whopping $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. This means that if you previously employed a mix of qualified terminable interest property trusts, credit-bypass trusts or life insurance trusts to minimize your estate tax burden due to it being over the old exemption levels, you might not need to take these elaborate measures anymore.

In fact, many estate planning lawyers will not have any clients who require estate tax management strategies anymore following the new rules and regulations. If you're one of these people who no longer require estate tax planning, it's time to reorganize your estate plan to reflect this fact.

As a general practice, it may also be a good idea to review your estate plan for any issues that need to be updated. Perhaps there was a new birth in your family and you need to add a grandson or granddaughter into your estate planning. Perhaps there was a divorce in your family and this also requires you to change your estate plans. Whatever your circumstance, make sure you review your estate planning on a regular basis to ensure that your arrangements meet your current needs as well as your family's needs.

Source: Reuters, "Your estate plan needs an update, even if it is new," Beth Pinsker, accessed April 12, 2018

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Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C.
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