It is very important for New York families to stay abreast of the changing estate planning laws. When a couple has a large estate, there are many federal estate tax rules that could have an effect on the way that they structure their estate plan. Right now for instance, each person is allowed to pass $5.43 million to heirs tax-free.
One example of how estate planning laws have changed is a tool for married couples called 'portability." Now, a person who has received an inheritance from their deceased spouse will not be quite as limited in the amount of assets that they can pass on to their children tax-free. With portability, a spouse can exempt their own $5.43 million plus the unused portion of their deceased spouse's estate tax exemption.
Many people are able to pass a greater portion of their assets to heirs by creating beneficiary designations on their retirement plans and life insurance policies. Homes and cars can be easily passed on to family members through joint ownership. Another tool that can help an estate to avoid probate is a revocable grantor trust. With a revocable grantor trust, the grantor is the trustee during his or her lifetime and then passes that responsibility to a successor trustee who disperses the assets to beneficiaries.
There are many different estate planning tools that can be used to help people achieve their goals. An attorney can assist clients in determining how they should structure their estate to avoid tax consequences and ensure that assets are disbursed to heirs efficiently.