We like to remind our clients that estate planning is not a one-time action–it is an ongoing process. Naturally, as time goes on things are going to change, and these changes will be quite significant in many cases. Some of them are personal and things that happen to you, like family additions and subtractions, changes in income, new acquisitions, changes of marital status, health issues and countless other possibilities. And there are other altered circumstances that are relevant to your estate plan that are completely out of your control and not specific to you, like changing market conditions, interest rates and new tax laws.
Everything that impacts your finances affects your estate plan, and though this sounds like overstating the obvious, people sometimes don’t make that immediate connection.
Invariably, as you enter into different stages of life you will have a better handle on some of these contingencies, and ongoing adjustments will become necessary and prudent. Things that were possibilities may start to look like certainties. The ever rising costs associated with long term care may become something of very immediate concern rather than a trend to keep in the back of your mind. If you want to plan for your twilight years intelligently you have to be prepared to react along the way.
We just passed along the news about the alterations in the estate tax parameters for 2011 and 2012. With the exclusion up to $5 million for single taxpayers and $10 million for married couples, a lot of people are going to want to adjust their existing plans if they were created under the expectation of a $1 million estate tax exclusion.
The profound changes in this year’s tax laws make an estate plan review more pressing than usual, but estate planning updates are always going to be a necessary part of the ongoing process.