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:
You need to plan on how to minimize taxes on lifetime gifts, even when the federal estate and gift tax isn’t a factor. Because of the $11.6 million lifetime federal and gift tax exemption, most people don’t have to worry about owing gift taxes on their lifetime giving. Most people also don’t need to make […]
Many people have their estate plans on the backburner. Two fairly recent cases show why procrastinating about or neglecting an estate plan is dangerous. In the first case, a family corporation’s ownership was divided among the husband, wife, and two adult sons. The wife passed away first. There apparently was no will, and no estate […]
Two factors make this an especially important year to carefully reconsider the role of gifts in your estate plan. Many of you will find you should make more gifts than initially planned. One factor is the calendar. The cur-rent estate and gift tax benefits might not be with us for long. This is a presidential […]
In last week’s retirement watch Weekly, we reviewed the Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT), and how you can use this classic estate planning tool when deciding how to pass on your home. Let’s pick back up with the second installment (here’s Part 1 of our Qualified Personal Residence Trust story)… In our example in Part […]
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One of the most difficult problems in an estate plan often is the family home or vacation home. It is an especially significant problem for estates that are likely to be taxable. A principal residence or vacation home is likely to have significant value. The key to reducing estate taxes is to remove property from […]
Everyone’s heard about safe deposit boxes, but important facts about the boxes are a mystery to most people. It is a rare person who doesn’t know what a safe deposit box is. It’s an equally rare person who knows key details about the boxes. Many items that are kept in safe deposit boxes wouldn’t be […]
Most Americans know the legacy they want to leave, but few take even the minimal steps to ensure that legacy. A legacy is what you leave behind, especially to heirs and loved ones. A legacy can include things, such as money, property and other tangible items. Some of these items might have monetary value while […]
It’s now 2020, and many people still have their estate plans on the backburner. They know the estate tax has changed a lot in recent years, and probably will change again. Many believe that since today’s generous estate tax exemption exceeds the value of their estate, they don’t need to worry about an estate plan. That’s a big mistake, and needs to be emphasized. […]