A lot has changed in the US since 1994:
The population of the US was 263,301,322, compared with an estimated 331,195,364 today.
The most popular names for newborns in 1994 were Michael and Jessica; in 2017 (the most recent year for which Social Security statistics are available) they were Liam and Emma.
The top income tax rate was 39.6% on taxable income of $250,000 or more for married taxpayers; today it is 37% on taxable income above $612,350.
Another big difference is the federal estate tax. The sheltered amount in 1994 was $600,000, with amounts in excess of that subject to tax at rates ranging from 37% to 55%. Today, the estate tax credit shelters estates up to $11.4 million, with a rate of 40% on any excess. Unfortunately, there are still estate plans in existence that were drafted in the 1990s. Although only a few thousand estates per year will be subject to federal estate tax, many of those “old” wills include tax-saving techniques from a higher-tax period.
If your estate plan is from 1994 (or earlier), it’s time for a thorough review. Not only should you look at your will and/or living trust to determine whether the provisions still reflect your current family needs, but you should have your attorney review the plans to see that they make sense in light of tax changes in recent years. If changes are needed to your plans, we ask that you consider adding a thoughtful charitable gift to your will or living trust. There are many creative ways to include a charitable gift that also provides income to family members.