Now that it’s 2010 and congress has failed to take action regarding the repeal of the estate tax, we see a lot of articles discussing whether the lack of taxation for a year is a good or bad thing; sometimes these articles go even further, arguing whether estate tax in general is a good or bad thing. These are all interesting discussions, but our firm is more concerned with how your estate plan will hold up this year when it was likely designed to weather very different circumstances.

To this end, we have found that CBS’s Money has published a very useful article about what the lack of estate tax in 2010 could mean for you and your family. The entire article is educational, but if you scroll about 1/3 of the way down the page you get to the crux of the article, a section titled “Steps to Take Now.” This section provides you with practical advice on what you can do, and what in your estate plan may need to change in order to keep up with the changing times and taxes:

  • Keep good records
  • Have an attorney review the “formula clauses” in your estate plan
  • Be aware of the tax laws for your state of residence
  • Give your estate plan a “check-up” as soon as possible!

As you and your attorney are reviewing your estate plan, keep in mind that the estate tax situation is likely to change again in 2011 (and may even change before 2011, effective retroactively), and try to plan accordingly. As Money Watch author Deborah Jacobs writes, “Whatever might be happening in Washington, no one should postpone the necessary steps. Just because Congress is inefficient and disorganized doesn’t mean that you must follow suit.”