2020 has been quite a year. From the pandemic, politics, and economy, there have been a lot of changes this year. Now that the year is coming to an end, here are some estate planning tips to make the most of the time we have left in what has been a chaotic year.
Gifting Assets to Family
We previously wrote about the impacts the election results may have on your estate. There may be a reduction in the amount that you can give during your lifetime and after your death, so now is the time to take advantage of the higher exemptions and avoid hefty taxes on your hard-earned wealth.
If you aren’t looking to unload massive amounts of your assets, you may gift up to $15,000 per person (both you and your spouse can give this amount) before a tax penalty would ensue. This is a nice way to give money that you may be planning to give anyway after you are gone. Make sure any checks are cashed by the end of the year in case there are changes to exemptions in 2021.
Review Your Estate Plan
Since the holidays are looking different this year and the hustle and bustle has dissipated with virtual gatherings, take this slower pace as time to review any estate plans you already have. Do you need to make any updates?
It may be time to make a change to your plan if you have moved, your assets have changed, or family circumstances have changed.
Write Out Instructions for Your Loved Ones
Many times we see grieving family members not sure where to begin when it comes to executing a loved one’s estate plan all because there are no instructions. You may have told your beneficiaries what they would be getting, but do they know where your assets are and how to gain access? Writing out a wealth inventory is something we help with at your initial consultation, but if you are past that step, take the time now to put together an inventory of your assets. List out institutions where accounts are held, what your login information is, and how much is there. Do this with all your assets, not just bank or investment accounts.
If you have minor children, leave instructions for the guardians that you name for them. They will need all the information surrounding your child’s care, from any medications they take, where their school is, to doctor’s information.
Of course, with taking the time to inventory your assets and list out any instructions, you will want your beneficiaries to know where to find any important documents as well. Have everything in an accessible place where they know how to gain access to any information they need.
Consult With Your Estate Planning Attorney
With the impending changes to estate taxes and with changing family dynamics, it never hurts to have a professional look at your plan. An expert can see any ways to save you on taxes or when it may be time to make changes you may not have considered. Perhaps it is time to move from a will to a trust, or you need help determining what kind of trust you need.
Estate planning can be overwhelming if you are just beginning the process. The estate planning tips for the end of the year listed above are all items we at Lexern Law Group are available to help you with. Let the experts guide you through the process.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG