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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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How Can Grandparents and Great-Grandparents Help Their Families?

November 1, 2022

More and more grandparents and great-grand- parents are the primary caregivers and source of support for their grandchildren and great-grand- children. The latest data indicate that 8% of grandparents, or 7.7 million, have grandchildren living with them. There are many reasons grandparents assume full responsibility for grand- children. The grandchild’s parents might have died. The […]

The New Rules of Incentive Trusts

November 1, 2022

Incentive trusts were one of the hottest estate planning tools of the 1990s. Much has been learned about their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s import- ant for estate owners to know the lessons learned. Incentive trusts became popular among people worried that bequeathing their wealth might have negative impacts on their children and grand-children. They […]

Estate Tax

How To Maximize the Tax Benefits of Estate Planning Gifts

October 30, 2022

Today’s high estate and gift tax exemptions could be slashed in a few years. Maximize those and other benefits now. The substantial increases in estate and gift taxes that were widely discussed in 2021 appear to be off the table, at least for now. But the current lifetime estate and gift tax exemption is scheduled […]

You Can Maximize the Tax Benefits of Estate Planning Gifts

September 29, 2022

Today’s high estate and gift tax exemptions could be slashed in a few years. Maximize those and other benefits now. The substantial increases in estate and gift taxes that were widely discussed in 2021 appear to be off the table, at least for now. But the current lifetime estate and gift tax exemption is scheduled […]

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What Readers Want to Know: Questions from My Email Inbox

August 31, 2022

A unique feature of Retirement Watch is readers can email questions directly to me. I read all the emails I receive and respond to each as best I can. Questions often inspire articles in the newsletter. In this issue, I answer recent questions that I believe are of general interest but don’t require a full […]

An Overlooked Estate Planning Essential: Don’t Leave a Mess for Your Family to Clean Up

August 12, 2022

One of the lessons about retirement and estate planning is the vital importance of information, especially very basic information, in most cases. There’s a lot of information that’s important for others to know, because having that information at the right time ensures that we are taken care of, our assets are protected and our loved […]

Smart Ways to Leave a Legacy, Increase After-Tax Wealth

August 2, 2022

Legacy planning is one of the most neglected parts of financial and estate planning. That’s too bad, because good choices about leaving a legacy can have powerful effects. Too often, estate planners and individuals focus only on the tax effects of potential giving strategies. But focusing more on non-tax effects and making shrewd choices can […]

Reap the New Estate Planning Advantages of 529 Plans

June 30, 2022

If you have young grand- children, take a fresh look at 529 education savings plans. These always were good estate planning tools, but a series of chang- es in recent years make them more attractive ways for grandparents to help grandchildren. You can set up a 529 savings plan account for any beneficiary, and you […]

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