If you have taken the time to create a comprehensive estate plan you are ahead of the game compared to most people. Despite knowing the importance of having an estate plan in place, over half of all Americans do not have one. Creating your estate plan is only the first step in protecting you, your assets, and your loved ones. Reviewing and revising that plan are also important to ensure that your plan is up to date and has taken into account any recent changes in your life. If you have not done so recently, now is a good time to review your estate plan.
The end of the year is always a good time to sit down and review your finances and analyze your assets and debts in preparation for filing taxes. It only makes sense to include a review of your estate plan as well since your assets and debts are directly linked to your estate plan. Moreover, if a review of your finances results in any major changes to your asset structure, those changes may call for a corresponding change to your estate plan. For example, if you need to reduce your net income for the year you may decide to shift assets around or turn liquid assets into investment assets. That, in turn, may call for you to remove or add assets into your estate plan.
In addition, if you have yet to make changes to your estate plan as a result of the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013, or ATRA, now is the time to do so. Prior to the passage of ATRA, the lifetime exclusion limit for gift and estate taxes fluctuated on a regular basis, running anywhere from $1 million to $ 5millon. Originally raised to $5 million as a way to help the country climb out of the recession, ATRA made the $5 million limit permanent. Each year, however, the limit is adjusted for inflation. For 2015 it will be set at $5.43 million, meaning you can make gifts during your lifetime and at the time of your death valued at up to that amount without incurring gift and estate taxes. For many people, the permanent increase in the exclusion limited has prompted a complete review and revision of their estate plan.
If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning and/or would like to review your plan, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.