Last week I met individually with three prospective client s who requested that I review their existing trusts that had been prepared by other people. For two of the prospects, their motivation for seeking a review was to see what effect the change in the federal estate tax exemption might have had on their estate plans.
As none of the three had an estate in excess of $5,250,000, the change in the exemption has had no effect upon their plan. In fact, since the change in the exemption in January, 2013, very few plans we have reviewed have been affected as to estate taxes.
Some would therefore think that if they have no risk of estate taxes, their plans, specifically their trusts, are fine, and no changes are needed. Sadly, this is seldom the case in the hundreds of trusts we review each year, even for trusts written within the last year or so.
Over the last several years, there have been at least 15 very significant changes in the law and legal strategies. Every time one of the 12 attorneys of our firm reviews a trust, we look to see if these important changes are included. Our yardstick and strict standard are the provisions included in the documents created by the AmericanAcademy of Estate Planning Attorneys.
We are fortunate to be one of the 102 forms in the United States authorized to belong to the Academy. Attorneys, with the assistance of accountants and financial planners, work full time to stay current on all tax and estate planning laws and strategies. Our firm is in constant contact with the attorneys of the Academy, and we in turn stay in close contact with our clients to keep them informed of important developments. We want to be sure that all of our clients’ trusts and attendant estate planning documents are current and effective.
Surprisingly, most of the new changes are positive. Fortunately, the good changes can be properly incorporated into a trust, and provisions can be made to eliminate the negative effects of the bad changes.
We have never reviewed a trust other than written by an Academy member that incorporates more than half of the 15 significant changes. The great majority of the trusts we see have outdated and ineffective language. More significantly, they lack the protections of the new changes.
Are you sure that your trust has all the necessary changes? Is it worth an hour of your time to find out?
For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office at 888.222.1328.
Contributed by MH Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney and Partner Theron M Hall Jr.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.