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:
Don’t wait until the end of the year to plan gifts to family members. Annual gifts are an important part of many estate plans, but most people don’t handle gifts the best way. Planning gifts now will increase the amount of wealth that is transferred tax-free to your heirs. The goals of gift-giving are to […]
The financial markets have changed many estate plans, and most people don’t even know it. Estate planners don’t always realize what the markets have done to their clients’ plans. After the market upheavals of the last year, it is a good idea now to review your estate plan to see how its results might have […]
A will plus a trust or two simply do not make a complete estate plan. Most estate plans are woefully incomplete. Heirs and loved ones often suffer as a consequence. A complete estate plan does more than decide how your assets will be divided and how taxes will be reduced. A full estate plan meets […]
New legal tools are available to help many families stuck with out-of-date trusts. For years I’ve warned against traditional trusts that make fixed distributions or distributions only from income. Inflation and the twenty year decline in interest rates and dividends have crippled the benefits from these trusts. Beneficiaries are helpless because the trusts are irrevocable […]
What you don’t know about retirement can hurt you. In fact, just a few wrong decisions in your investments, taxes, or estate planning could completely derail your retirement plans. Worse yet, the rules of the game keep changing, making it harder to keep up. For these reasons, I’ve assembled all the key points – everything you need to know — into one comprehensive report. Click here today for free access.
Estate planners agree that one of the most underused strategies is the charitable remainder trust. That might change. New trends are making CRTs more attractive. Taxpayers with appreciated property should take a fresh look at CRTs as part of their retirement and Estate Planning strategies. In a CRT, an individual transfers appreciated property to the […]
Incentive trusts and protective trusts are all the rage. Many people want to be generous with succeeding generations – now or in their wills – but they want some assurance the wealth won’t be wasted. People are concerned that inheriting wealth might reduce an heir’s work ethic. They don’t want the money to disappear in […]
NFL superstar Johnny Unitas passed away in September, 2002, and his estate has been a mess since. Unitas’s families from two marriages are at odds. His son and namesake is fighting to get the company father and son ran back from the estate’s executors. The executors are Unitas’s longtime accountant and attorney. Unitas and John, […]
Section 529 college savings plans rapidly became a popular Estate Planning tool, especially for those who want to help their grandchildren. Each state now offers at least one 529 plan. A 529 plan allows a donor to give up to five years’ of tax-free gifts ($55,000) in one year. The donor can get the money […]