The holiday season soon will have come and gone.

For many of us, the start of a new year can be a time of empty commitment to self-improvement. Meaningful resolutions are often made but are rarely kept. Instead of purchasing a gym membership or pretending that we will enjoy eating salad as our entree this year, perhaps we should resolve to secure our family's future better by planning for incapacity and death. There is no time like the present to evaluate the planning that we have or have not undertaken.

Relevant considerations for your family may include:

  • How might the 2018 federal tax overhaul impact my current estate plan?
  • Is my current estate plan structured in a way that will promote efficient administration and minimize family effort and expense, or even controversy, at my death?
  • Are my assets structured in a way that limits my exposure to potential liability?
  • Do I have Powers of Attorney and a Living Will that express my wishes and allow my family to make financial and health care decisions in the event of my incapacity?
  • Have I implemented planning that will allow my business to continue operating after my incapacity or death?
  • Will my qualified retirement account(s) pass to my beneficiaries in a protected and tax-efficient manner?

Significant tax law changes in 2018:

Significant changes to the gift and estate tax system went into effect January 1, 2018. For those who implemented their estate plan prior to the legislation, the new law could lead to unintended consequences and even some tax inefficiencies. Our attorneys have been leading seminars and advising clients about planning under the current system for nearly a year, and we are fully prepared to discuss the potential ramifications with you.

Non-tax concerns:

While tax minimization is a result that most clients would prefer, non-tax estate planning issues and objectives may be even more important for many of us. In today's litigious and bureaucratic social climate, a thoroughly-considered estate plan is vital to a family's future. Careful planning can help ensure: (a) that the time leading up to your death is less difficult and stressful for your family, (b) that your estate is able to be settled in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and (c) that your beneficiaries are protected against subsequent lawsuits or divorce. These issues are central in the planning efforts that our attorneys undertake with clients.

Suggested Action:

Move estate and related planning to the top of your 2019 resolutions list. There is no time like the present to implement or update a plan that will be meaningful to your family and you.