As we depart the holiday season, you may want to consider reviewing your current estate plan. As busy as this time of year can be, it is important to set aside some time to address any personal or financial changes that may require an update to your plan. Here, we’ve created an estate planning checklist with topics you should review with an estate attorney and family members.
1. Financial Gifts
Have you made all your gifts for the year? Whether you have gifting goals or not, it’s worth revisiting gifts you’ve made or planned to make before the end of the year. As a reminder, the annual gift tax exclusion is $17,000 for 2023. These gifts can be made to anyone—family members or not. Also, if you pay any school/college tuition or hospital bill directly to the institution on behalf of the beneficiary, it doesn’t count towards the $17,000 gift limit.
2. Update your Beneficiaries
The named beneficiaries on your assets may be out of date due to life or financial changes. We recommend reviewing the accounts at all your financial institutions, including bank, investment, and insurance accounts to confirm that you are satisfied with your current beneficiaries. Remember to check spelling, any updates to contact info, and addresses to avoid difficulties when these assets need to be transferred.
3. Lifetime Gift & Estate Tax Exemption
Under current law, individuals are exempt from paying tax at the Federal level on gift and estate amounts under $12.92 million in 2023. That amount, however, will sunset at the end of 2025, and is expected to reduce this exemption to approximately $7 million. With this in mind, if you want to gift during your lifetime and see your beneficiaries enjoy it, you may want to consider gifting out of the estate at levels you are comfortable with.
4. Estate Planning Documents
Keeping your estate planning documents up to date will allow for a smooth transfer of your assets later down the road. From life altering events to law changes, there are numerous reasons why your estate planning documents may need to be revisited. If you have moved during the year, consider asking your attorney if any updates need to be made.
5. Check-in with Family
As you spend quality time with loved ones over the holidays, consider informing them of your estate planning intentions. By having this conversation, you can better understand each other’s goals and avoid any conflicts that may arise later on.
Organizing your estate planning affairs can give you and your family peace of mind as you enter the new year. If you have any questions, an estate planning attorney can assist you in reviewing, updating, or adding any estate planning documents you may need. We’re always here to talk through this information, how it fits into your broader financial picture, and other questions that may be appropriate for your estate attorney based on your unique situation – just reach out!