Is estate planning no longer necessary? With a federal unified estate and gift tax exemption of $5,340,000 for 2014 and the ability to share unused portions of the exemption between spouses, you may think so.
Yet that initial reaction might not be correct. For example, state laws can differ from federal. If your state has a lower estate tax exemption and a lack of portability, your estate can be subject to tax. Having a plan can reduce the impact.
Here are estate planning moves you can make to avoid unintended consequences.
- Create or update your will. Not having a will can mean what you own is distributed according to state law. A written will outlining your wishes lets you be sure assets go where you choose. Once you have a will in place, update it as your life changes.
- Review beneficiary designations. Fill out beneficiary forms for bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement plans. You designate who inherits the account and the balance is transferred directly.For some assets, such as individual retirement accounts, a properly completed beneficiary designation affects the way the account is distributed and can save tax dollars.
Other planning moves include deciding the best way to title assets such as real property, and gifting assets during your lifetime.
Please call us and your attorney to schedule an estate planning review. We’re here to help.