Tailoring an estate plan after tax law changes

Ideally, Georgia residents will maintain their estate plans much like they would maintain their homes and cars. This means regularly reviewing them to ensure that it still meets their needs. Reviews should be done after major life events like a marriage or divorce. In light of recent tax changes, it may be a good idea for married couples to ask about their joint exemption. Married couples are now entitled to a $22.4 million federal estate tax exemption.

However, they need to make sure that they have elected to take advantage of the portability provision. Otherwise, married couples may be limited to whatever remains of their $11.2 million individual exemption. It is important to note that these new limits exempt just about everybody.

It may also be a good idea to ask whether documents currently in an estate plan say what a person intends them to say. If they are not properly customized, it could result in another party taking actions that may or may not meet a person's wishes.

Reviewing and updating an estate plan on a regular basis may help an individual create a plan that best meets his or her needs. This may mean creating a trust or taking other steps to avoid probate. It may also mean taking steps to avoid or reduce estate taxes paid as they may reduce what beneficiaries receive. An attorney can review an estate plan as well as help to edit documents that are already in existence. The attorney can also suggest other important documents, such as financial and health care powers of attorney, that should be included in the plan.

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