At this time of the year, we like to remind our clients to take a look at their existing estate plans to evaluate whether any changes are needed. In general, we recommend that you undertake at least a cursory review of your current estate plan on an annual basis. A more in-depth review is necessary if there have been significant changes in your personal or financial circumstances, or if your goals for the distributions of assets has changed since your current estate plan was established.
The following questions may be useful as you consider your current estate plan:
1. Is there a change in your family situation? (births, marriages, divorces, deaths)
2. Has the size of your estate changed substantially?
3. If you have a trust in place, have all of your newly acquired property and accounts been titled correctly?
4. Are your beneficiary designations current?
5. If you own a business, do you have a plan for your business succession when you will be stepping out, or when you pass away?
6. Are there any changes necessary to the people you named as power of attorney, executor, guardian of your minor children, successor trustee, and agent for healthcare decisions?
As for taxes, there is not much change that will affect estate plans in New Hampshire. The following is the summary of the New Hampshire and federal estate and gift tax amounts for 2019:
New Hampshire Estate and Gift Tax Laws:
· New Hampshire still does not levy any tax on estates or gifts.
Changes to Federal Estate and Gift Tax Laws:
· Federal Exemption Amount. The per person lifetime exemption for estate, gift, and GST taxes has increased to $11,400,000 (up from $11,180,000 in 2018). The top marginal rate remains at 40%. Thus, married couples with proper estate planning will be able to transfer $22,800,000 free of federal estate tax.
· Annual Gift Exclusion Amount. The annual gift exclusion amount remains at $15,000 per recipient. This is the amount each individual can gift to any number of individual recipients without reducing his lifetime federal exemption amount.
If you already have an estate plan set up with us, making changes is generally straight forward and much less costly than the initial setup of the plan. Please feel free to contact us if you know of any changes you would like to make, or if you have any questions about whether changes might be needed.