The recent repeal of the estate tax is having unintended consequences for responsible husbands and wives who already had a will or trust in place to protect their spouse and family—instead of protecting them, that existing will could now end up leaving surviving spouses with nothing. Jonnelle Marte at the Wall Street Journal has this to say:

“It’s a common practice for people to use formulas in their wills designed to send the maximum amount of assets not subject to the estate tax into a trust, often for their children. The remaining assets are usually left to the surviving spouse. But this year, there’s no limit on the assets people can pass to their heirs without being subject to federal estate tax. So all of the assets could go into a trust and the surviving spouse would get zero.”

Does this mean you’ll have to get your will or trust updated every year? No. But it does mean that you’ll want to get your will or trust reviewed by an estate planning attorney this year. A review of your estate planning documents is a quick and easy process, especially if you don’t have any other significant changes to make. One thing is for sure, the small amount of time you spend making sure your documents are current is well worth the protection and benefit your spouse and family will receive from it.