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How estate planning documents should be adjusted as time passes

New Yorkers who are thinking about their estate plan or already have an estate plan will want to pay strict attention to potential changes to the law and other factors that could necessitate changes. Simply drafting estate planning documents does not mean that it is sacrosanct and could not or should not be altered as needed. With the new tax bill that was recently passed, it is imperative that people have a grasp on the tax implications from the law once it is implemented. There are certain factors that should be considered to properly address this and other issues.

One concern is the estate tax. When a person dies, the government will collect a certain amount from the estate. The estate tax is contingent on how much is in the estate. If the total surpasses a certain amount, it will be taxed. The amount will change with the new law. Individuals who have an estate between $5.6 million and $11.2 million will be exempt from the estate tax. Married couples might be thinking about how the new law affects them since one spouse will often die first. A spouse can be protected from the estate tax based on portability. There is certain language that must be put in the estate plan to make certain that there is portability.

It is important to tailor the estate plan to the individual needs. Using basic terminology without personalization can cause problems. If, for example, there is a financial power of attorney and the person is incapacitated, the failure to have specific details about the person's desires can allow the agent to make changes that might not have been wanted or would not be approved of. People are wise to think about their estate plan, consider changes to their situation and alter the documents as necessary if there is a divorce, a new child, a remarriage, changes to the finances in a positive or negative way and more.

When thinking about the tax implications of the new law and addressing other factors that will come to the forefront with an estate plan, it is essential to have legal assistance from an attorney who is experienced in drafting estate planning documents and changing documents that are already in place. Contacting an estate planning attorney is the first step.

Source: Forbes, "5 Questions To Ask Your Estate Planner After The New Tax Law," David Robinson, Jan. 9, 2018

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