4 Signs You Need to Update Your Estate Plan Before 2020

update your estate plan.jpg

Most people view estate planning as a single event.  Regrettably, not true.  Just as our lives - personal circumstances, what we own, and with whom we spend most of our time - are constantly evolving, our estate plan needs to similarly evolve. 

If any of the following 7 factors have changed for you since writing your estate plan, it is time to meet with your estate planning attorney and update your plan accordingly.

1. Change to Personal Situation.

With every aspect of our lives becoming more fast-paced, dramatic life changes that previously may have taken 10 years, can happen in 1 year.  Some examples include the death of a family member or loved one, birth of a child, you own employee stock and your company recently went public, a new job, the beginning or end of a personal relationship, increase or decrease of your income, or a marriage or divorce - are all significant changes to your personal situation that affect your estate plan.  If you have experienced one of the above listed changes, you should meet with your estate planning attorney to determine what changes need to be made to your plan.

2. Change in asset make-up.

If you’ve recently purchased a home, have seen an increase to your stock portfolio, or invested in a start-up company, you have experienced a change in the nature of your assets.  Besides creating your estate plan the most important single factor determining whether it ultimately succeeds is ensuring that your estate plan controls your assets. Accordingly, if you have had a change in the nature of assets you own, it is important to discuss your current assets with your estate planning attorney to ensure all are properly funded to your revocable trust. 


3. Move to a different state.

Estate planning-related laws and procedure vary by state.  For instance, California does not have a decoupled estate tax or inheritance tax.  There are also additional state-specific rules related to real property and other areas that can vary widely depending on the state in which you live.  Accordingly, if you’re moving into or out of the San Francisco Bay Area, we recommend consulting with a professional to review your estate plan.


4. Changes to Trust and Estate Tax (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017).

Does your estate plan conform to recent changes to Federal and State tax laws?  If your estate plan has not been reviewed since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, you could be missing out on estate tax benefits and estate planning opportunities.  Since 2017, the estate tax exemption amount has more than doubled. That is, an individual that died in 2017, had an exemption, or credit amount against the amount used to calculate estate tax liability up to $5,490,000.00.  For an individual who dies in 2019, the estate tax exemption amount is $11,400,000. Meaning that an individual who dies in 2019, will solely be taxed at the current estate tax rate of 40% on each dollar after the $11.4 Million exemption amount.  Practically speaking, the result is that the estate tax is an issue for almost no one. This has made the focus shift from estate tax planning to planning for basis management. Thus, if you have not updated your estate plan recently, it may place its focus on estate tax planning as opposed to tax basis planning - which can result in a loss of valuable trust and estate tax planning.


Changes to Federal and State tax laws can have a significant effect on your estate plan.  As an estate planning only law firm, the Law Office of Matthew J. Tuller remains apprised of these constantly evolving changes in order to provide guidance to our clients as to estate planning strategies that provide optimal protection and greatest tax benefits.


We strive to build lifetime relationships with our clients to ensure that your estate plan continuously evolves with you.  As a failure to plan is fatal - ensure that you keep you plan up to date. Schedule your free consultation with estate planning attorney Matthew J. Tuller, Esq. Click here to access our online scheduler.