2012 is quickly approaching, and there is no better time than now to re-evaluate your estate planning goals.
Estate planning can be broken down into three distinct areas: tax planning, legacy planning, and long-term care planning. Which area is the most important to you? Once you determine that, you can update your plan based on your goals.
Tax planning has not been at the forefront in the last few years for most families. The federal estate tax exemption is $5 Million per person, and $10 Million per married couple, so only a small percentage of individuals are affected. However, you should be aware that in 2013, the estate tax exemption will revert to $1 Million per person unless Congress acts. 2013 will come sooner than we think, and while both political parties have an incentive to come together on taxes, all bets are off. Keep reading our newsletter to keep posted on federal estate taxes.
Legacy Planning is an important component of estate planning for many families today. Legacy planning ensures that your plan is crafted carefully so that any conflicts in the family are avoided, and that your children, grandchildren or other beneficiaries are protected against themselves and others.
Long-Term Care Planning
Excessive long-term care costs are a concern for many families today. As people live longer and long-term care costs rise (much faster than inflation), the question becomes how you protect your estate from being spent down completely on health care costs. There are proven asset protection strategies that help to preserve part of your estate. The earlier you plan (i.e., while you're still healthy), the better.
Your Next Steps
I recommend that you sit down with your family and review your estate plan every year. You may find that minor or major changes need to be made. Perhaps you were more interested in tax planning a few years ago, but now realize you need to focus on long-term care costs and how to protect assets against those costs. Once you decide changes need to be made, make sure to implement those changes as soon as possible.