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:
The usefulness of many estate planning vehicles lasts less than a generation. A host of estate planning strategies can slash taxes and help preserve family wealth. These include charitable trusts, family limited partnerships, and irrevocable family trusts. Events don’t always unfold as planned, and over time changes would be helpful. Unfortunately, most good estate planning […]
Has the IRS nailed the coffin shut on family limited partnerships? The IRS has been challenging FLPs in courts for years, until recently with little success. Two recent court decisions, however, disallowed some FLPs and caused at least a few advisors to caution taxpayers against setting up new FLPs at least until the rules are […]
Every estate is different. Even your next door neighbor or colleague at work is going to have some issues that are different from yours. Yet, there are key principles and strategies that apply to almost every estate plan. There also are common Estate Planning mistakes you should avoid. Since this is the time of year […]
One year ago we thought the IRS cleared up the rules regarding trusts that inherit IRAs. It turns out the IRS was setting new traps for some taxpayers. Some taxpayers who named trusts as IRA beneficiaries might have to rewrite those trusts. A trust can provide an extra layer of protection for your wealth. An […]
Charitable Remainder Trusts get a lot of attention from estate planners. Yet, they might not be the best option for many estate owners. There is the less-known charitable gift annuity to consider. Each strategy shelters appreciated assets from capital gains taxes, reduces current income taxes, provides income for life or for a period of years, […]
Few people actually have estate plans in place. Even lawyers and financial professionals who know better don’t get around to planning their estates. Many people who do have “estate plans” really just get simple wills written so they don’t have to wrestle with many of the real issues of their estates. Others have plans drafted […]
Your will and estate plan need to be reviewed. Be sure they are ready for coming changes. A key tool in many estate plans especially needs some re-working soon. Otherwise, you might be caught in a trap. The current lifetime estate and gift tax exemption is $1 million per person. It rises in 2004, and […]
For the first time in years, I am hearing again from subscribers who seek to protect their assets from lawsuits and creditors. Those in the medical profession feel especially vulnerable. Other business owners and professionals are hurt by rising insurance costs or reductions in coverage. All are seeking other ways to protect themselves. In addition, […]