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New tax laws not the only reason to update an estate plan

Texas residents who were estimating how the new tax laws would affect them should know about the changes to the estate tax. The amount that is exempted has doubled to around $11.2 million for an individual and twice that for couples. While this is important to those with a large amount assets and who would like to ensure that the amount subject to tax is minimized, there are reasons to think about estate planning and periodically update documents regardless of the size of the estate.

It is important to consider the disposition of assets. For people who have created a will, it can include how assets will be transferred. There can be a trust, it can be provided to the beneficiaries outright or there can be a new trust created, also known as a testamentary trust. With a testamentary trust, certain provisions can be included, such as how old the beneficiaries must be to get the assets. Other factors that should be considered are items of sentimental value and if there are charities the testator wants to donate to.

The financial management of the affairs is vital. As the executor performs the tasks inherent with the role, such as accounting for assets and liabilities and moving forward with probate, the tax and administration filings must also be handled. With trusts, the trustee will oversee this. People who have children in need of guardianship should have a guardian specified. Preparation for the unforeseen, such as an accidental death of both the testator and the guardian, makes it necessary to have another guardian in mind.

People will often discount the value of a trust completely. Trusts can be useful as it lets the person have a certain level of control in distributing the assets. There are many reasons why a person will want to maintain control, such as having a minor child, a disabled child, a child with addiction issues and more. As estate planning documents are compiled, changes will inevitably occur with the passage of time. Having ancillary documents, such as a living will, a health care proxy or a power of attorney are invaluable.

When crafting strategies for estate planning, it is essential to remember that minor details can be exceedingly important and this goes beyond the changes to the estate tax. Having legal assistance from a law firm that is experienced in estate tax planning, trusts, guardianships, wills and any other aspect of the process is the first step toward creating a viable and comprehensive estate plan to address any eventuality.

Source:, “7 Reasons To Revisit Your Estate Plan, Trump Tax Law Aside,” Rob Clarfeld, March 15, 2018