When you are in the business of estate planning you have an uphill battle when it comes to the matter of procrastination. People have a tendency to postpone the things that don’t seem to be immediately relevant to them, and nothing could fit this description more aptly than preparing for death.
Though it is easy to relate to this line of thinking it can be quite problematic, because however we may think about it, we all do pass away. And in a significant percentage of cases the ideal amount of forewarning is not forthcoming. Death is often preceded by a period of decreased mental and physical capabilities, so if you put off planning your estate too long it may not be possible for you to do it properly.
This having been said, sooner or later most people do finally get around to planning their estates, but this is just the first step. When you put an initial estate plan in place you will be working with personal and societal realities as they exist at that particular point in time. Things are constantly in flux, and on the one hand you go through changes that are specific to your own life. Your marital status may change, you might buy or sell a business, and the value of your investments may fluctuate significantly. All of these things could warrant adjustments in your estate plan.
There are also things that take place that impact the society as a whole that are relevant to your estate plan. A prime example is the new tax legislation that was passed in the middle of December. The Federal estate tax exclusion was scheduled to be just $1 million in 2011, but it has been raised all the way up to $5 million. In addition, the top rate has been reduced to 35%. These alterations are limited in time, and are due to expire at the end of 2012, when the estate tax exemption will be reduced back to $1 million with the top rate of 55%. Also, New York State’s estate tax exemption remains at $1 million. These changes are very relevant to many taxpayers, making a 2011 estate plan review a must. Do the right thing and make an appointment with your estate planning attorney sooner rather than later to discuss how these changes affect your present plan and what adjustments might be necessary going forward.