January is an excellent time to review and update your estate plan – even if all you do is make a list of the things you mean to do in 2016. A recent article in The Business Investor's Daily, "5 Changes to Make to Your Financial Plan Now," provides a framework to get things rolling.
Make gifts to family. Plan to give gifts of cash or tangible property of up to $14,000 per person because there's no limit on how many gifts you can make, and there is no gift or estate tax. Couples can combine their gift giving to $28,000 per person. This is an easy way to reduce a potentially taxable estate. Establish a long-term strategy and give annual gifts to your beneficiaries.
Give to charity. You can also make a donation to a charity, and if you tend to make significant charitable donations, consider establishing a family foundation. To avoid capital gains tax, you should consider donating appreciated assets like stocks. A donor-advised fund is another way to receive a charitable deduction today, avoid capital gains tax and retain the authority to determine its future use.