Whenever someone meets with a will and estate planning attorney, they need to think about some of the bigger trends in the world. Keep an eye on these four trends so you can have a fuller discussion the next time you talk with an estate planning attorney.
The previous couple of decades weren't especially heavy with economic inflation. However, recent years have seen a notable change. If you're thinking about the best way to preserve as much possible value for beneficiaries, you may need to rethink where you want your estate's assets. When you put investments in a trust, for example, you want to be confident the long-term returns are likely to stay ahead of inflation.
A will and estate planning attorney can't provide investment advice. However, they can help you explore legal options for putting assets in financially secure places. If you want to focus more on real estate as a sequester of value, for example, you'll want to include any acquisitions in your estate plans.
The federal estate tax exemption is a bit under $12 million for an individual and under $24 million for a couple. While this doesn't affect the majority of estates, it's something to keep an eye on. The current exemption is due to expire in 2026.
Why does that matter? First, the government may change the exemption in any year. Second, if the government allows the current exemption to expire, more folks will be affected. Likewise, you may want to accelerate some of your plans, such as moving assets into trusts or distributing gifts, to lock in the current exemption.
People have significantly changed their tastes in terms of the assets they acquire. While classics like stocks, real estate, and art still abound, many people are now purchasing collectibles and cryptocurrencies. Valuations can be volatile with atypical assets so you may need to make estate plan adjustments more frequently. Similarly, transfer processes may be more complex, especially with the rise of non-tangible assets.
Changes to the tax treatment of capital gains in estates haven't materialized despite some political interest in it. However, there will be continuing interest, and you should monitor the situation.
Particularly, the step-up basis that raises the basic cost for assets in estates to what it was at the time of the grantor's death is a favorite for discussion. If a future government manages to pass the proposed changes, you may need to discuss your options with an estate planning attorney to see if you should accelerate your approach.
For more information, contact a will and estate planning lawyer near you.