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Get Your Estate Plans in Order

Estate Planning

Five Steps to Take to Keep Your Legacy Current

As the year winds to a close, it’s a good time to recall the kind of legacy you want to leave behind. There are simple steps you can make now that will help ensure your legacy remains strong and directed toward the people you want to enjoy it. Here are five ideas from Baird Trust that you may be able to take advantage of before year’s end that can help ensure your estate plan remains on track.

1. If you will potentially be subject to estate tax (which currently applies to a married couple with assets of more than $23.4 million), consider using your Federal Estate and Gift Tax Exemption this year. Proposed legislation could significantly reduce the amount of the exemption at some point in the future, which now sits at $11.7 million per person. Some ways to take advantage of it:

  • For your children, you may want to consider either outright gifts or gifts to trusts for their benefit.
  • For your spouse, you may wish to consider a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT), which allows your spouse to retain access to the assets and income.

2. Utilize your $15,000 annual gift exclusion to transfer assets to family members or others.  Married couples can each make a gift to the same person, allowing you to double the amount transferred to $30,000.

3. Review the asset titling and beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts to ensure they’re coordinated with your overall estate plan, especially since the distribution rules for inherited accounts have changed in recent years. Most non-spouse beneficiaries must now fully withdraw an inherited retirement account within 10 years of the owner’s death, so if you have a retirement account slated to go to someone other than your spouse, this is a good time to revisit your strategy.

3. Review the people and institutions you have listed as guardian, trustee, executor, and power of attorney in your plan to ensure they are still the most appropriate choice. Over time, it often happens that some individuals are no longer willing or able to fulfill their role. Or maybe now that your children are older, they’re suitable to serve in one of these capacities.

5. Finally, note that this will be a very busy year-end for estate planning attorneys, so don’t wait until the last minute to contact your financial professional. Getting on their calendar to review and possibly update an estate plan early is the best way to make sure you can complete your updates by year end.

For more information on what you can do to make sure your estate plan will accomplish what you need it to, contact us at

The information reflected on this page are Baird expert opinions today and are subject to change. The information provided here has not taken into consideration the investment goals or needs of any specific investor and investors should not make any investment decisions based solely on this information. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments have some level of risk, and investors have different time horizons, goals and risk tolerances.