When the calendar turns over and a new year arrives it can act as a signal of sorts. You may realize that an entire year passed and you didn’t get around to doing something that you had placed on the back burner.
It is natural for people to procrastinate about things that they don’t especially want to think about it. As important as estate planning is, the event that triggers the plan into action is clearly not something that most people are very anxious to consider. So estate planning is often relegated to the bottom of the to-do list. And once a plan is in place, people can tend to keep the documents in a lock box somewhere and forget about the matter.
We all know that you have to be reactive to ever-changing conditions if you want to handle your assets intelligently. This is true of estate planning as well, which is why we always emphasize the fact that estate planning is an ongoing process and something that you don’t complete forever in one sitting.
As the years pass and circumstances change your estate plan is going to need to be revised. What made sense based on the facts as they stood when you created your initial estate plan may not be appropriate five, ten, or twenty years later.
2011 is an especially important year for estate planning updates because of the profound changes in the estate tax parameters. The new legislation that raised the estate tax exclusion up to $5 million is impacting a lot of estates.
Aside from the repeal for 2010 the exclusion has never been this high, so it is very likely that your estate plan was devised with the expectation of a much lower exclusion. Now is the time to arrange for a consultation with your estate planning attorney, review your existing plan, and make adjustments where they are necessary.