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:
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 […]
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 […]
One of the most difficult problems in Estate Planning is determining how to handle personal collections and similar special assets. Often the owner has devoted more than money to these assets. The collection is a special interest that consumed much time and attention, and there probably is an emotional investment as well. The owner had […]
Most discussions of estate planning, including in this newsletter, focus on discrete topics and strategies. Once in a while, especially early in the year, it is good idea to step back and look at the broader picture. There are concepts and strategies common to every estate plan and estate owner. Use these concepts and strategies […]
Small, personal items often cause the biggest Estate Planning problems. Those with experience handling estates know the worst disputes among heirs often are over what seem like trivial items. Even in a large estate, heirs might aggressively contest the disposition of a few pieces of furniture or personal mementos. Those small, personal items are most […]
You need a complete, up-to-date estate plan now more than ever, regardless of the value of your estate. Estate Planning never was all about taxes, though people thought it was back when estate taxes clipped many estates. Because few estates will face a federal tax burden, we can focus on the real issues of estate […]
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 that do a high percentage let their plans become outdated. Sometimes having a plan that isn’t current is worse than […]
Now, only the very wealthy have to worry about Estate Planning. That’s what many people believe after the latest estate tax law, and that belief could cause a lot of problems for them and their heirs. Estate planning is more than tax reduction. Estate planning ensures that your wealth is transferred to those you want […]