Estate Planning 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 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, please start with our article:
Trusts are an essential part of most estate plans, even the plans of people with moderate wealth.Not too many years ago, trusts were reserved largely for the very wealthy. Times have changed, how-ever, and most estate plans have at least one trust. Trust terms and concepts are unique, and many lawyers don’t do a good […]
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” said inventor, diplomat and founding father Benjamin Franklin in describing the importance of planning for the future. It is only natural for people to want to maintain some level of control over the assets that they worked so hard to accumulate throughout their life. Creating a […]
“Great Fortunes Lost” was an article in Fortune magazine years ago. It described how various individuals, usually heirs, lost or squandered very large fortunes. Some of the individuals lost more than money. They lost their health or wasted their lives because of the effects wealth had on them. It’s nice to leave enough to make […]
A grantor trust is one in which the grantor retains control of its income and assets. Grantor trusts are a type of living trust that is created during the lifetime of the individual who creates it. The grantor typically is self-appointed as the trustee to maintain control over the assets. The grantor can then name […]
In last week’s edition of Retirement Watch Weekly, I presented Estate Planning for “Modern Families.” There’s a lot more ground to cover, so let’s dive right back in – starting with estate tax implications for single people. Under the estate and gift tax, singles do not have the advantage of the marital deduction. An unmarried […]
Trusts are typically thought of as tools for the wealthy, however, affluence is not a prerequisite to reap the benefits of owning a trust. Trusts can be useful estate planning tools for many people, but it may not be worth the expense for people who do not have many assets. Background: What is a Trust? […]
The make-up of the modern family has changed quite a bit over the years. Therefore, traditional estate plans won’t work well for many families these days. A traditional plan is for couples who are in their first and only marriage and have only kids from that marriage. Different plans, tools, and strategies might be needed […]
It is time to review the best ideas for executing an end-around of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act. Many financial and estate plans were upended by the passage of the SECURE Act in December 2019. Most notably, the SECURE Act eliminated the Stretch IRA, which had been a mainstay of […]