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:
To follow up on last week’s Retirement Watch Weekly, here are 5 more steps you can take for making a legal will – without having to hire a lawyer. Name Guardians for Your Children When a testator has minor children, the will should designate one or more individuals who will serve as guardians for the […]
Congress is considering slashing the lifetime exemption for estate and gift taxes, perhaps cutting it in half or even more. Because of that, estate planners are telling clients to consider giving away assets before the end of 2021 to remove from the estate some assets that might be subject to the federal estate tax after […]
Congress is considering some far-reaching legislation on estate and gift taxes. There are actions you should be taking while our elected officials negotiate the details. You know from media reports the proposed legislation would slash the estate tax exemption, eliminate a number of estate planning strategies that have been used for a long time and […]
In a recent survey, 53% of people who did not have a will gave this as their main reason: Difficulty finding an attorney they could trust. However, you don’t need a lawyer to prepare a will for you. You can prepare a will yourself, and there are plenty of resources, especially online, to guide you. […]
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In last week’s edition of Retirement Watch Weekly, I presented Estate Planning for “Modern Families.” There’s a lot more ground to cover, so let’s dive right back in – starting with estate tax implications for single people. Under the estate and gift tax, singles do not have the advantage of the marital deduction. An unmarried […]
The make-up of the modern family has changed quite a bit over the years. Therefore, traditional estate plans won’t work well for many families these days. A traditional plan is for couples who are in their first and only marriage and have only kids from that marriage. Different plans, tools, and strategies might be needed […]
When estate planners get together after work, inevitably they swap stories about the rancorous family battles over dividing estates they witnessed. Often, the worst estate battles are over items that seem of little or no value to outsiders. Old furnishings or household items, seemingly meaningless memento and similar items often stir up deep conflicts among […]
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 […]