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Estate Planning

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:


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estate plan

How To Set Up a “Dynasty Trust” for Your Estate Plan

April 21, 2020

Dynasty trusts have been a mainstay of estate planning for a long time. They are a standard way to ensure family wealth is preserved and grows through several generations. Avoiding taxes has been a strong incentive to create a dynasty trust since the beginning of estate and inheritance taxes. Given that background, it would be […]

estate planning

How To Craft the Perfect Last Will & Testament, Part 2

April 7, 2020

In last week’s edition of Retirement Watch Weekly, we discussed ways to construct a will to maximize the inheritance you pass on to your heirs. Part I can be found right here, and we’ll continue exploring this topic below. Know your Children & Anticipate Issues with Your Estate Naming the oldest adult child as executor […]

Estate Planning

How to Craft the Perfect Last Will and Testament for Your Estate Plan

March 31, 2020

It doesn’t take much to tarnish a gem of an estate plan, and with it your legacy. A misplaced word, missing clause, or miscommunication between lawyer and client can send your will and your ordered estate plan spinning into chaos. You can avoid such a fate. Follow these last will and testament guidelines, and you’ll […]

How to Maximize the Tax Benefits of Estate Planning Gifts

March 19, 2020

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 […]


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Estate Planning

Understanding the Risks of Estate Plan Mistakes and Neglect

March 17, 2020

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 Reasons to Reconsider Estate Planning Gifts

February 25, 2020

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 […]


The Qualified Personal Residence Trust: How to Leave Your Home to Your Heirs

February 4, 2020

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 […]

The Qualified Personal Residence Trust: A Classic Estate Planning Tool

January 28, 2020

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 […]

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