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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Of course it’s a good idea for parents to talk with their children about money from an early age… But it’s never too late to start… if you didn’t start early. First, you need to be clear what the money means to you and what its purpose is. You also should know what’s important to […]
Estate Planning isn’t “all about the money.” At least, it’s not if you want the plan to be successful. Likewise, I’ve said for years that estate planning isn’t all about taxes. Truth is, you need an estate plan even when the estate isn’t likely to be hit with federal estate taxes. You also need to […]
You can save your loved ones months or years of time, frustration and anguish. All you have to do is make sure your estate plan has all the essential documents and that key people know where to locate them. As I’ve said before, Estate Planning is about much more than tax reduction. A complete estate […]
The latest annual report from the Trustees of Medicare and Social Security sparked a lot of discussion, but many of the conclusions people made are wrong. Every year, the trustees of Social Security issue a report to Congress and the public on the financial status of the program and its trust funds. You can find […]
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It is time to revisit your family’s legacy plan. For many people, it’s well past the time to revise their plans. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made only a few direct changes in the estate and gift tax, but the changes have significant consequences. This law was really one of the more […]
Donor-advised funds steadily increased in popularity over the years, but their use soared after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Their popularity is likely to continue increasing. Also known as a charitable gift fund, the donor-advised fund (DAF) took off after the early 1990s. Fidelity Charitable is believed to have set up the […]
Financial scams and abuse, especially against older Americans, more than doubled over the last five years, according to reports from financial services firms. Part of the reason for the increase is that financial firms are more alert for signs of fraud and abuse. They also have more actions they’re allowed to take when they see […]
There long has been a group in Congress determined to end the Stretch IRA, and this year they seem intent to have their way. I’ve reported in the past few years that many in Washington were targeting the Stretch IRA. The Obama administration called for an end to this valuable estate planning tool in its […]