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Estate Planning Basics

Estate Planning at its most basic is the process of determining how your wealth and assets should be transferred to the heirs of your choice: your children, grandchildren, friends, families, charitable causes, etc. and then deciding which legal tools and structures to use to best meet your basic estate planning goals.

Estate planning is not simply reducing or eliminating taxes and avoiding probate.  Only after establishing how you want your estate’s assets to be distributed should you consider ways to reduce taxes and avoid probate. From there, good estate plans deal with a host of other issues. Now, with all but a few estates exempt from the federal estate tax, those other issues are, or should be, at the forefront of estate planning.

An estate plan is to ensure that you are taken care of the rest of your life and that your wealth is transferred to the people you want to have it. A good estate plan ensures these goals are accomplished with as much efficiency and as little cost as possible. An estate plan addresses the management and distribution of an individual’s property and financial obligations after he or she dies with financial tools such as wills, revocable living trusts and power of attorney.

For a comprehensive overview of Estate Planning Basics, please start with our article:

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Everyone Should Revisit Estate Planning Before the 2020 Election

November 15, 2019

Most estate planners say the 2017 tax law made the estate tax rules permanent. But permanent doesn’t mean the same thing in Washington, D.C., that it does in the rest of the country. There’s a good chance the estate and gift tax will change substantially after the 2020 election, and you should prepare for key […]

7 Estate Planning Twists Everyone Should Know

October 24, 2019

You learn a lot of interesting things in estate planning. Most estate planners like what they do because of the variety of issues they face and the interesting things they learn about people. Here’s a collection of issues I’ve come across recently and questions I’ve been asked. When I was in law school, the transfer […]

Estate Planning

Estate Planning Basics – What Are the Most Used Definitions and Terms in Estate Planning and What Do They Mean?

August 16, 2019

Estate planning uses a wide range of terms and definitions. As a result, it is crucial that an individual understand the meanings of these terms and definitions to fully grasp the estate plan that is recommended and what it will do. An estate plan is created to ensure that you are taken care of the […]

Estate Planning

What Is Estate Planning? A Comprehensive Overview of the Basics

August 16, 2019

What is Estate Planning – Contents: What is Estate Planning? Components of an Estate Plan The Will Probate Trusts Revocable Living Trusts Power of Attorney Medical Care Documents Other Estate Plan Documents Lifetime Gifts Life Insurance Burial and Funeral Estate Planning Mistakes Beginning the Estate Planning Process Estate Planning Forms and Documents Estate Planning Checklist […]

estate planning

5 Questions for Updating Your Estate Plan Part II

August 5, 2019

Last week, I shared with you Part I of my list of 5 questions for updating your estate plan. Today we’ll pick back up at number 3… 3. Here’s the third question about updating your estate plan… Where are you spending time? Each state has its own laws governing estates, trusts, property ownership, and powers […]


5 Questions for Updating Your Estate Plan

July 30, 2019

Having an estate plan is important, but having one means only part of your job is done. A plan has to be complete and current. Not enough people have an estate plan, but of those who do… A high percentage let their plans become outdated. Sometimes having a plan that isn’t current is worse than […]

estate planning

How To Resolve Estate Planning Disputes: The Funeral & Burial

June 18, 2019

The post-mortem activities involving baseball great Ted Williams spotlight an Estate Planning issue that rarely is discussed: Who has the final say on the funeral and burial arrangements? Most of you will recall that after Ted Williams passed away, his son apparently had the body flown to a firm in Arizona, where the body was […]

Two Basic But Crucial Steps to Make Estate Planning Work

February 27, 2017

Some of the most important work on your estate plan doesn’t take place in the lawyer’s office. It doesn’t even involve the details of the will, trusts, Probate, powers of attorney, and the rest of the cornucopia of Estate Planning documents and strategies. Often the ultimate goal in estate planning is to ensure the wealth […]

April 2021:

Congress Comes for your Retirement Money

A devastating new law has just been enacted, with serious consequences for anyone holding an IRA, pension, or 401(k). Fortunately, there are still steps you can take to sidestep Congress, starting with this ONE SIMPLE MOVE.

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