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Year-End Gift & Estate Planning Checklist (2022 Guide)

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The end of the year is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for many people, and we believe it is important to make sure your Estate Planning affairs do not get lost in the chaos. 

Below is our guide to help you through the key tasks to check off your list before the new year. 


In 2022, the annual federal gift tax exclusion per individual is $16,000. This means, you may give up to $16,000 to as many people as you’d like gift-tax free. 

If you’re married, you and your spouse can make combined gifts of $32,000 to a particular individual. 

Make sure to alert your CPA and note any annual exclusion gifts you may be making. 


You may front-load a 529 college savings plan by giving 5 years’ worth of annual gifts of $16,000 at once, for a total of up to $80,000 per person, per beneficiary without paying a gift-tax or chipping away at the lifetime gift tax exclusion. 

Trade Offs: Front-loading a 529 plan means the grandparent can’t make any more excluded gifts to the grandchild during those 5 years. Also, if the grandparent dies during that 5-year period, the contributions for any remaining years would be brought back into their estate.

A parent or grandparent can use a custodial (UTMA) account to facilitate gifts for a child. UTMAs allow for greater investment options but they do not provide tax-free accumulation. Also, the child named on the account would gain control once they reach a specified age governed by state rules, which in many states is 18. Parents or grandparents would also still have gift tax limitations of up to $16,000 per beneficiary.


Consult with your Estate Planning attorney to coordinate annual gifts to Irrevocable Trusts including life insurance trusts. 

Also consult with your attorney to discuss the possible benefits of employing Crummey Powers as a tool for leveraging $16,000 per year annual gifts into much larger future payments to beneficiaries of the trust. 


Consult with your investment, insurance, and/or banking consultants to ensure your preferred beneficiary designations are properly reflected across all of your relevant financial accounts and/or policies, especially if you have had a child or grandchild. 

For example;  

  1. Individual Retirement Accounts (e.g., IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs)
  2. Workplace Retirement Accounts (401ks, 403bs, 457s, etc.)
  3. Pension & Profit Sharing Plans
  4. Life Insurance Policies
  5. Fixed or Variable Annuities
  6. Wills & Trusts 
  7. Bank and Brokerage Accounts

The RMD rules apply to all employer sponsored retirement plans, including:

  1. Profit sharing plans
  2. 401(k) plans
  3. 403(b) plans
  4. 457(b) plans
  5. Traditional IRAs
  6. SEPs
  7. Simple IRAs

Remember, you must take your first minimum required distribution for the year in which you turn age 72 to avoid stiff penalties. 


Check in with your estate attorney to update your estate planning documents (e.g., Wills and Trusts), and review any deeds or titles that may need adjustments, especially if you have had a child, grandchild, started a new business and/or entered into a major financial transaction during 2022.


In Summary

Evaluating your year-end estate planning checklist is an important component to ensuring future security for you and your loved ones. We recommend starting now to take full advantage of all year-end opportunities available to you. 

As always, consult with your trust tax, legal, and financial advisor(s) to strategize around your specific situation.

The information contained herein is intended to be used for educational purposes only and is not exhaustive. Diversification and/or any strategy that may be discussed does not guarantee against investment losses but are intended to help manage risk and return. If applicable, historical discussions and/or opinions are not predictive of future events. The content is presented in good faith and has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable. The content is not intended to be legal, tax or financial advice. Please consult a legal, tax or financial professional for information specific to your individual situation.