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June 2, 2015

Some reasons to review your estate documents.

There are many reasons why estate documents should be reviewed periodically.  Life events are often a reason to review estate documents.  These events may change circumstances, goals and priorities.  Another reason is changes in the applicable laws.  You may not be aware of the changes.  Following area few changes that make it advisable to have your estate documents reviewed.

Privacy regulations were issued after the passage of the  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).  There are  situations when you want others to be able communicate with your employer, insurer or health care provider.  A written authorization with specific language is required to allow such communications.  You should have your estate documents reviewed if they do not include this authorization.

Changes in the federal estate tax in 2010 reduced rates and increased the exclusion.  Provisions in estate documents to minimize and/or postpone the estate tax may no longer apply.

Estate planning documents for married couples prior to 2013 often had provisions designed to minimize and/or postpone the estate tax until the death of the surviving spouse.    The cost of assets for purposes of determining gain for assets sold by the surviving spouse was generally the value at the death of the first spouse to die (“step-up basis”).  This may not be the  preferred strategy as a result of the above changes.  There are new strategies that will allow a “step-up basis” at the death of the surviving spouse.

You should contact your estate planning attorney if you are sure if these changes apply to you.


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