Delaware residents may be aware that there have been a number of federal tax law changes in recent years that have significantly altered the way that estate planning should be approached for wealthier individuals. Between 2004 and 2015, the federal estate tax exemption rose steadily from $1.5 million to $5.43 million while federal capital gains rates have gone from 15 percent to almost 24 percent.
Many people in Delaware focus a lot more of their attention on their retirement plan than they do on their estate plan. Although few people enjoy thinking about what will happen after they die, it is important for Delaware residents to plan how their property and affairs will be handled for the sake of their children and other beneficiaries.
Delaware residents might benefit from understanding more about some of the fundamental steps involved in sound estate planning. Developing an estate plan allows individuals to allocate how their assets will be distributed in the event of their death. For many people, this an effective way to ensure that surviving relatives, or beneficiaries, are entitled to receive their share of the decedent's estate. Without an estate plan, control over distributing the assets may be designated to a friend, relative or probate court.
Delaware residents may have heard that Robin Williams' family is engaged in a legal war over his estate. Though the comedian had a current estate plan and will, his third wife and three children are battling over personal items, such as his clothing, fossil collection, graphic novels and bicycles.
With modern technology comes a new class of assets, known as digital assets. They include online properties like a person's Facebook page, an online file storage account, a blog, email accounts and other social media profiles. Unless a person includes these digital assets in a will and gives the beneficiaries access to logins and passwords, the contents of those sites that may include year's worth of photographs, video, audio and written works could be deleted upon the account holder's death.
Individuals in Delaware who are planning for the distribution of their assets after death may find it helpful to look to some recent celebrity estate planning errors. Making the appropriate arrangements based on the value of assets, communicating with family members and regularly updating the estate plan are all important.