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Estate planning changes and continuations for the coming year

As the New Year approaches, there are some changes that can impact the estate plans of certain Oklahoma residents. The beginning of the year is always a good time to make a quick review of one's existing estate planning package and to check for any items that need adjustment. If any of the following scenarios is applicable, it might be time to give a plan a closer look.

In 2016, the lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion amount will rise to $5.45 million. This means that individuals can gift assets or property to loved ones free of tax until that threshold is reached. The increase between this year and the next is $20,000.

Some aspects of estate planning will remain the same and should be taken advantage of by residents. For example, the portability of the previously mentioned lifetime exclusion will continue. This is the rule that allows married spouses to "inherit" any unused exclusion that their spouses did not need. This means that, for married couples, the total value of assets that can be handed down without incurring estate tax is $10.9 million.

As the year comes to a close, Oklahoma residents should plan a time in the early weeks of 2016 to sit down and review their current estate plans. Of course, not everyone will be affected by the increase in the exclusion limit. Even so, most people go through life events that can alter their estate planning needs, and a yearly review is a great way to identify any outdated information or gaps in planning.

Source:, "Estate Planning in 2016: Here's What You Need to Know", Dan Caplinger, Dec. 11, 2015

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