Inflation is a critical factor to consider in the realm of estate planning. It is the increase in the general level of prices for goods and services over time. While it may seem somewhat abstract, the impact of inflation can be quite concrete when it comes to the value of your estate and the effectiveness of your estate plan.
One direct impact of inflation on estate planning is the erosion of purchasing power. As prices rise, the value of money decreases, meaning your assets might not be as substantial as they appear, particularly when considering long-term horizons. If you’re planning for the future, you need to take into account not just the value of your assets today, but also their potential value in an inflationary future.
Inflation also affects the real value of fixed income assets. If you have a significant portion of your estate in fixed-income securities like bonds, the income from these assets could lose value over time due to inflation, reducing the future wealth of your estate.
Additionally, inflation can influence estate taxes. In the United States, for instance, the federal estate tax exemption amount is adjusted annually for inflation. While this can be beneficial, allowing for a higher exempted amount, it also introduces an element of unpredictability, making long-term planning somewhat more complex.
So, how can you adjust your estate planning strategy to account for inflation? Here are some tactics:
1. Invest in Assets That Can Outpace Inflation: Assets like stocks, real estate, and certain types of bonds can often outperform inflation over the long term. A diversified portfolio can help maintain the growth and value of your estate.
2. Consider Inflation-Protected Securities: Certain types of investments, like Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) in the US, are specifically designed to help protect against inflation. The principal of TIPS increases with inflation, providing a reliable hedge.
3. Use Trusts to Manage Future Costs: Certain types of trusts, such as a Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT), can be structured to provide an inflation hedge by adjusting the annuity payment over time.
4. Regularly Review and Adjust Your Estate Plan: A good estate plan isn’t a set-and-forget affair. Regular reviews can help adjust for changes in inflation, tax laws, and your personal financial situation.
5. Work with Professionals: Estate planning, particularly with the variable of inflation, can be complex. Working with estate planning attorneys and financial advisors can help you navigate the challenges and ensure your plan is as robust as possible.
Inflation may be an inescapable economic reality, but with careful planning and regular reviews, you can create an estate plan that protects your assets, supports your beneficiaries, and stands the test of time.
- How to Update Your Estate Plan After Major Life Events - December 8, 2023
- Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples: Your Legal Rights - December 6, 2023
- When and Why to Update Your Estate Plan - December 4, 2023