Posted by: Heinz Brisske

Christine Benz, writing for Morningstar, urges readers to update their estate planning documents. She writes that, barring Congressional action, estates of $1 million will be subject to the estate tax starting next year, and the top estate tax rate will be 55%. “The exclusion limit has been extraordinarily benign for the past three years, affecting only very wealthy families, but it might not remain that way. When you consider that real estate holdings are included in one’s total estate value, it’s not hard to see how reducing the exclusion amount to $1 million or less could touch a lot more families.”

Benz suggests 5 estate planning to-dos. The first is to update beneficiary designations and to coordinate them with your estate plan. Next, if you are a parent with young children, name guardians for those children in your estate planning documtns. Third, make sure you have a valid and current Last Will and Testament, not to be confused with a Living Will, which is an advance medical directive. Fourth, put appropriate Powers of Attorney in Place. In Illinois there are two such advance directives, one for financial purposes, called a Durable Power of Attorney for Property, and the other for health purposes, called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. And finally, name an Executor, which is done in a Last Will and Testament.

Read the full article, 5 Estate-Planning Tasks That You Shouldn’t Put Off.