Estate planning professionals help clients look ahead and anticipate future contingencies. By necessity, however, estate plans are crafted based on laws and circumstances existing at the time they are put in place. This means that even the most thoughtful estate plan should be revisited from time to time.
A lot has happened in the last five or ten years (to say the least!) that may impact existing estate plans, and more changes are anticipated in the coming years.
If your estate planning documents were executed before 2018, it could be time to schedule an estate planning check-up.
Notable changes include the passage in 2017 of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which temporarily increased the federal estate tax exemption to a record-high level of $10 million per person indexed for inflation (which in 2023 is $12,920,000 per person). Those high levels, however, are slated to sunset in 2026 when the exemption from estate taxes will be reduced to $5 million per person indexed for inflation, potentially making estate tax planning more important for more individuals. Another change occurred in 2018 when North Carolina passed its Uniform Power of Attorney Act, codifying several changes to the state's use and interpretation of powers of attorney, which can be critical elements of lifetime and incapacity planning. Then, in late 2019, Congress passed the SECURE ACT, ushering in significant changes to the legal treatment of qualified retirement plans and IRAs.
Each of these changes to the legal landscape may warrant a review of your estate plan. Even if various changes in law do not directly impact your plan, it is a safe assumption that these years have brought changes to your family tree, financial circumstances, or personal goals, all of which may influence the effectiveness of your estate plan.
Regular visits to our doctors are encouraged to ensure we are prioritizing our mental and physical well-being. Similarly, it is crucial to periodically assess and maintain the health of our estate plans, ensuring their efficacy and vitality.