Many people count on life insurance to pay their estate tax when they pass away (allowing their heirs to keep non-liquid assets such as real estate without having to sell immediately), and this has always been a fairly safe and reliable strategy—as long as you’re keeping track of your policy. Arden Dale’s article in the Wall Street Journal warns that current low interest rates are wreaking havoc on some insurance policies, leaving the owners without that safety net when the time comes to pay estate taxes.

“The policies are imploding because of low interest rates. An insurance plan issued years ago, when interest rates were higher, may no longer be earning the investment returns it needs to pay premiums as drafted. That shortfall leaves the owner on the hook for unexpected costs.

“If the worst happens and a policy collapses, its demise can even result in a big tax bill.”

If you aren’t sure of the status of your insurance policy talk to your financial planner or insurance representative to find out, then be sure to call your estate planning attorney to update your estate plan as needed to protect your heirs and family from the burden of unexpected estate taxes.