There is an article today on CNN’s site, taken from its Time-Warner Sister Money Magazine entitled “Rethinking your estate plan.” In it, the author interviews a couple whose assets have recently fallen 15% in value (which actually isn’t bad compared to most people). The couple, Les and Anna Glowacz executed estate planning documents five years ago, but due to the decrease in the value of their assets and the increase in the lifetime exemption to $3.5 million, they are unsure whether or not their plan still makes sense.
I am not going to reprint the entire article here. However, I made some comments in the parentheticals below re: their questions.
- Give gifts now or later (I think that now is probably the best time in history to give gifts as their values are low, interest rates are low, and there is uncertainty over what will happen with the estate tax)
- Does your state have a state death tax? (Florida currently does NOT).
- Should you split your property among your children “equally” or “fairly?” (Generally, “equal” is “fair” but not necessarily in all circumstances).
- Simple or complicated? (This depends on the circumstances. Simple situations, such as a couple in their first marriage with adult children and significantly less than $3.5 million might have two simple wills. However, the more complicated the larger the estate and the more complicated the family dynamics, the more complicated the documents).
- Do you want to give to charity? (With regards to charitable donations, there are a number of decisions to make, as to whether to give now or at your death, what assets to give, and whether to make a “split interest” gift, such as through a charitable remainder trust).