“If you wait until next year to make your big gifts, you are taking a risk.”
The unified federal estate and gift tax exemption for 2020 will jump up to $11.58 million or effectively $23.160 million for married couples.
Market Watch’s recent article, “Get your estate plan in order (this means you),”says that, despite these huge big exemptions and the fact you’re not currently exposed to the federal estate tax, your estate plan may still need updating to reflect the current tax rules.
You may be exposed to the federal estate tax in the future, even though you’re okay right now.
Let’s look at some issues, regardless of whether or you’re “rich” enough to be worried about exposure to the federal estate tax. Year-end is a good time to conduct your estate planning self-check, so let’s get started.
Update beneficiary designations. A will or living trust doesn’t override the beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other types of investment accounts. This includes accounts, such as life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, other tax-favored retirement accounts and employer-sponsored benefit plans. The person(s) named on the most-recent beneficiary form will get the money automatically if you die, regardless of what your will or living trust document might state.
Designate secondary beneficiaries. Designate one or more secondary (contingent) beneficiaries to inherit, if the primary beneficiary dies before you do. Consider this possibility.
Update property titles. If you’re married and own property with your spouse as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS), the surviving spouse will automatically get sole ownership of the property when the other spouse dies. The major advantage of JTWROS ownership is that it avoids probate. The property automatically goes to the surviving joint tenant.
Name guardians. One of the main purposes of a will, is to designate a guardian for your minor children (if any). The guardians must care for your children, until they reach adulthood.
Any life event could require changes in your estate plan. In addition, the federal and estate and gift tax rules have been unpredictable in the past, along with the state death tax rules.
Reference: Market Watch (November 11, 2019) “Get your estate plan in order (this means you)”