As New Year Begins, It’s Time to Update Estate Plans

Posted on Jan 03, 2014

Around this time of year, as we enjoy the holidays and reconnect with our loved ones, it may be the ideal time to begin the discussion about estate planning and taxes. A new report issued by World News Report notes that family gatherings this time of year coincide with other important year-end considerations, such as the culmination of another tax year. Many tax laws will change in the coming year, and families should consider whether this is a good opportunity for conducting a family estate planning meeting to discuss.

While the American Taxpayer Relief Act was passed in 2012, many of its most significant changes to estate and gift tax laws do not take effect until January 1, 2014. For example, under the new law, spouses may leave an unlimited amount of assets to each other when they pass away, and an additional $5.25 million to a non-spouse or entity. This change could affect an estate plan that was created under the old system. Some of these plans called for all amounts excluded from estate taxation into specially designed tax-savings trusts. Under the new law, this could mean that the entirety of the deceased spouse’s estate will roll into such trusts. If your plan was set up to provide for the surviving spouse outside of a family trust, this could call for an update to your plan.

Significant changes also impact same-sex couples. These couples should meet with an Anaheim estate planning attorney to review their existing plan. Updates may be in order after the New Year. 

Further, this time of year presents a prime opportunity to discuss your end-of-life wishes with your family. Conveying your desires now, while you are healthy, will make it easier on your loved ones when they are faced with the task of making these difficult decisions on your behalf. It is often easier on your family members when they have a clear understanding of what you would have wanted.

As the New Year begins, take this opportunity to update your estate plan so that it accurately reflects your current goals and wishes. Contact an estate planning attorney in Anaheim today at (714) 459-5481.

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James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm