BARRING a Congressional logjam, there is likely to be a new estate tax law by the end of 2009. The Obama administration has said that making the tax permanent, avoiding a one-year repeal starting next year, is a high priority. Yet details of the proposal the White House will support are unclear.
For people who are setting up estate plans, or updating existing ones, not knowing what proposal will emerge might be temptation to take a wait-and-see approach. But that could be a mistake.
Estate plans should be reviewed at least every five years, more often if there is a change in finances or circumstances or if health or marriage takes a turn for the worse, or if there is a birth or death in the family.
â€œWith people having a lot less money than they used to, you really need to look at your documents and see if they do what you intended,â€ said Joshua S. Rubenstein, a lawyer with Katten Muchin Rosenman in New York. A review will allow you to use tax-planning tools that Congress may soon curtail or eliminate.