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Tax law changes may spark review of estate plans

Tax law changes could affect the way that some people in Florida plan for the future. In 2019, the federal exemption for estate and gift taxes has reached $11.4 million per person or $22.8 million for married couples. This means that most people may not be exposed to federal estate taxes although people with substantial wealth may want to put more consideration into the planning processes. After all, these larger exemptions are scheduled to sunset in 2025 unless they are renewed by Congress. This is one reason that estate planning is almost never a final process. People can actively review their wills and other estate documents in order to make sure that they reflect current relationships and life changes as well as different tax regulations.

Checking on a person's estate plan can be important for people at all levels of wealth. It is easy to leave an old will in place that winds up excluding a newer child or grandchild while leaving a former spouse as a beneficiary. While many people look over their wills and make the changes that come along with significant life events, people may be less likely to review their beneficiary designations.

Life insurance policies, retirement accounts and many investment accounts pass to the beneficiary named by the account owner outside the probate process, providing easier access to loved ones left behind. The beneficiaries do not change or update when the account holder updates a will. Instead, the account holder should contact each company to make sure that their beneficiary designations reflect their current plans for the estate.

Taxes are one reason to review an estate plan, but they are far from the only reason. An estate planning attorney may provide guidance on current laws and how they may affect wills, trusts or other plans already in place.

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