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:
How long does it take to administer an estate? There’s no simple answer to that. Yet few things these days do more to increase the cost of and delay the time it takes to administer an estate… …Than leaving an electronic mess for the executor and heirs to clean up. And that’s exactly what many […]
Here’s a question I’m seeing more and more from my readers… “Is it a good idea to use do-it-yourself software or websites in preparing your estate plan?” The answer is both Yes, and No. First off, estate plan preparation software for individuals is nothing new. It has been around since the early days of the […]
There’s a lot more to know about wills than many people realize. The additional knowledge can often result in a much improved estate plan. Let’s first review some basic terms and concepts of the will. A will is a written statement of your instructions and intentions regarding your estate. The phrase “last will and testament” […]
In our last edition of Retirement Watch Weekly, I shared some estate planning tips on how to avoid probate. Let’s look at some more ways today… A transfer on death provision (TOD) is another approach to avoid probate. Most financial institutions now have transfer on death provisions in their new account applications and allow the […]
Avoiding probate is often a major estate planning goal, but most people don’t learn all the strategies available. In probate, a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed according to state and local law. The process ensures debts are paid and legal title to assets passes as the decedent wanted, or according to state law […]
Most estate planning discussions assume assets flow in only one direction, from the older generation to younger generations. That focus neglects some opportunities to increase family after-tax wealth. It is not unusual for adult children to help care for their parents or at least have more wealth than their parents. If the parents won’t use […]
Avoiding probate often is a major estate planning goal, but most people don’t learn all the strategies available. In probate, a deceased person’s estate is administered and distributed according to state and local law. The process ensures debts are paid and legal title to assets passes as the decedent wanted, or according to state law […]
Life insurance used to be an essential element of most estate plans, but it hasn’t been for about 20 years. Important changes, however, make it time for many people to give serious thought to including life insurance in their estate plans. In this article, I’m talking about permanent life insurance, not term life insurance. There’s […]