What's New For 2016?

Welcome to 2016!  If getting your estate plan in order is one of your resolutions for the new year, take a look at this quick list of changes to 2016 estate planning law compiled by financial services company The Motley Fool.  Even if you already have an estate plan in place, it is helpful to understand how these changes could impact your estate plan. 

  1. The lifetime exclusion amount, or the amount of assets an individual may pass free of tax during life or after death, increases to $5.45 million in 2016.
     
  2. Individuals may give gifts of up to $14,000 to any number of individuals this year before the lifetime exclusion amount even comes into play.
     
  3. The federal tax rate for taxable estate assets is 40% this year.
     
  4. The lifetime exclusion amount is still portable, meaning spouses can utilize any unused portion of a deceased spouse's lifetime exclusion amount if the proper election is made.  As such, married couples can take advantage of a $10.9 million lifetime exclusion amount this year.
     
  5. Both Indiana and Ohio have done away with estate taxes, so state level estate taxes are not a concern for Indiana and Ohio residents this year.

Here's to a safe and happy 2016!

A Solid Estate Plan is the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Looking for a last minute gift idea for your family and loved ones this holiday season?  How about putting together an effective estate plan to protect them in the future?  The gift of a solid estate plan can save your family and loved ones time, money, and headaches down the road.  It is important to put in the time now to make sure your affairs are in order as mistakes in your estate plan can have devastating consequences after your death.  A piece on the website Financial Planning highlights ten major celebrity estate planning mistakes to avoid:

  • Appointing an untrustworthy trustee or executor
  • Failing to clarify intent
  • Putting off estate planning until it is too late
  • Making verbal promises outside of the plan
  • Failing to fund a trust
  • Failing to make documents accessible to loved ones
  • Creating unenforceable documents
  • Failing to update estate planning documents after major life events
  • Creating "do it yourself" estate planning documents
  • Failure to establish an estate plan at all

Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season and all the best in the new year!