It’s official, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has passed and with it, sweeping changes to the tax code. The Federal Estate and Gift Tax exemption has been increased to $11mm (indexed for inflation) per individuals in 2018. Although the federal estate tax appears now to apply to a very small percentage of taxpayers., legacy and life insurance planning remain critical for most families. There is nothing permanent about these transfer tax changes, as they are set to expire in eight years, if they are not changed in the interim under a different adminstration. Failing to plan is at a family’s peril, since the success of most legacy planning relies on a disciplined long-term approach that hedges against mortality and preserves insurability, both of which are at risk for those who choose to wait. Also remember that families with estates below the federal estate tax exemption but who reside in decoupled states with estate tax exemptions lower than the federal estate tax exemption or who have an inheritance tax can still face state tax exposure, and states with estate exemptions tied to the federal amount may reconsider these provisions due to the potential lost revenue. Even with tax uncertainty , life insurance will remain prudent for accomplishing multiple legacy plan objectives. Personal cash value life insurane may serve as a vehicle for providing cash accumulation and retirement savings during life, as well as earnings replacement and family security in the event of an untimely death. Life insurance , especially trust owned can minimize family conflicts, allow equalization among active and non-active heirs with regard to a family business and provide long term wealth and tax management.
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