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Estate administration and planning after the fiscal cliff, update

The fiscal cliff held everyone's attention for months. There was tremendous worry on many fronts due to the high degree of uncertainty as to what the new decisions would be. Just last week, this column addressed some of the concerns that the fiscal cliff could have for individuals and families dealing with the alternative minimum tax if a fix were not introduced. Now that at least a short term resolution to the fiscal cliff has been reached, people who engage in estate planning and estate administration in Maryland and elsewhere can take a few steps to improve their circumstances and respond to the new laws, rules and policies that are in place.

There are opportunities to be taken advantage of in financial and estate planning following the resolution of the fiscal cliff. For people who make modest investments, there are more opportunities regarding Roth conversions that may or may not be beneficial. People in the highest income brackets will see their taxes increase by 4.6 percent which may impact investment plans, and the estate tax went up to 40 percent as well. A 'fix' for the Alternative Minimum Tax has been put in place for another decade, which could affect some families' investment decisions.

Adjusting an individual's or family's investments in response to the new opportunities and taxes that will apply going forward requires a good understanding of the whole of the relevant financial planning picture. The decisions should not be made in a vacuum or based upon the general consensus. Each estate plan and decisions about current and future estate administration turn on personal factors as much as the laws and policies set in place by the government, whether it is the federal government or the state government here in Maryland.

It is a good idea to review investments and the investment plan every year, especially this year with the additional changes to tax laws. Current changes to tax laws are effecting estate administration in a significant way. Staying up to date and modifying your estate plan in response to these changes in Maryland and throughout the country is an important way to protect your own and your family's interests.

Source:, "Post-Cliff Financial Plans for 2013," Roger Wohlner, Jan. 2, 2013

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