Take time to review your estate plan

The “Taxpayer Relief Act” signed on January 2, 2013, permanently sets the estate and gift tax exemption at $5,000,000 and the top tax rate at 40%. The exemption amount is adjusted annually for inflation, which puts the 2012 exemption at $5,120,000 and the 2013 exemption at $5,250,000. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2013 is set at $14,000 per recipient.

Now that the rules have been made “permanent,” take the time to review your estate plan to make sure it still accomplishes your wishes.

With the higher exemption amount, fewer estates will be subject to tax, and perhaps yours falls short of the tax threshold. But regardless of the size of one’s estate, everyone needs the following basic documents – updated for the current rules and your particular circumstances:

* A will that specifies who is to inherit your assets and who is to be the guardian of any minor children you have.

* A power of attorney naming someone to handle your financial affairs if you become disabled or seriously ill.

* A health care directive (living will) stating your wishes should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

* A financial inventory listing such things as bank accounts, income sources, insurance policies, and other assets.

Your estate plan review should include checking your exposure to state inheritance taxes and an update, if needed, to beneficiary designations on such things as IRAs and insurance policies.

For help in getting your estate plan in order, please contact us and your attorney.

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today's small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it. Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission. Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations. She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.
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