Estate planning provides you with orderly succession plans designed to preserve the assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate. Wills, durable powers of attorney and trusts, where appropriate, function to allow your estate to be distributed in the method that you desire while maintaining the minimum liability to transfer and inheritance taxes. We often see clients who have complicated wills and trust documents, but the titling of their assets and beneficiary designations are improper such that their estate would not flow as desired. Therefore, if major changes are needed, we will discuss this with you and, if necessary, meet with you and your attorney to review these strategies.
Recent changes have increased the federal estate tax exclusion to over eleven million dollars per person which, with proper planning, allows a couple to pass more than twenty-two million dollars to their heirs free of federal estate tax. However, many states which are "decoupled" from the federal limits have far lower exclusions. Unlike the federal estate tax system allows "portability" – the ability of a surviving spouse to take advantage of their deceased spouse's unused tax exclusion – the states offer no such feature which can result in a substantial tax liability following the second death. A well-crafted estate plan can reduce the state estate tax bill to its absolute minimum. All estate plans should be reviewed in light of recent changes in the law.