1. Changes to the federal estate tax and gift tax rules.
The estate tax and gift tax rules have gone through dramatic changes over the past twenty years. I can easily remember when the estate tax was raised to one million dollars in 2003 and, most recently, spending 2010 with no federal rules in place at all. For 2016, each of us has a $5.45 million exemption. This means, through trust-based estate planning, a couple could take advantage of $10.9 million in estate tax savings between them.
2. A possible end to portability.
Portability is an estate tax planning technique that allows spouses to preserve unused portion of the estate tax exclusion amount at the death of the first spouse. We do not know if portability, a relatively new planning concept and technique, will last through this administration. If you have not including portability strategies in your existing estate planning documents, now is the time to do so.
3. Significant changes to elder law benefits.
Many of you know there are substantial benefits available in our state of New York to help us pay for long-term care both in the home-based setting and in a skilled long-term care facility. It is likely that we will see changes to benefit availability in the very near future. This means it is more important than ever to know where you stand in relation to eligibility for long-term care benefits. If you have not yet had us complete a long-term care analysis and report on your behalf, now is the time to do so.
Although we have some historical guidance, we do not know for sure how these three issues will be handled going into next year, as well as throughout the administration. I will keep you updated as I am informed and receive new information. I welcome you to set an appointment so I can answer any of your questions on these planning issues.