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:
Mutual funds and brokers are making it more difficult to put your grandchildren on the road to wealth with a modest initial investment and small regular additions. Fortunately, there still are ways to build a modest sum into a meaningful legacy. Suppose you open an investment account with $1,000, add $50 each month for 10 […]
Small items often cause the biggest Estate Planning problems. Any one with some experience handling estates knows the worst disputes among heirs often are over what seem like trivial items. In a large estate, heirs might aggressively contest the disposition of a few pieces of furniture or personal mementos. Those small, personal items are most […]
The estate tax repeal scheduled for 2010 over-shadows the fact that the gift tax will remain. Also, though the estate tax exemption will rise through 2009, the lifetime gift tax exemption will not. The gift tax exemption rose to $1 million in 2002, but it stays at that level indefinitely. The continuation of the gift […]
Your home is among the most valuable assets in your estate, perhaps the most valuable. That makes it a key part of your estate plan. The home also is among the most difficult assets to incorporate into your plan. You always need a place to live, so the home cannot be given away as easily […]
family limited partnerships are evolving, and people are finding more uses for them. Until recently, family limited partnerships (FLPs) were considered primarily vehicles for reducing estate and gift taxes. But these vehicles are so flexible that families are finding many practical uses for them, even when taxes aren’t an issue. You might find that they […]
You don’t need to be the country’s remaining high technology multi-millionaire to help your grandchildren. You don’t even need to be rich. There are many simple, low-cost ways to help, and they are tax-free. With many of these strategies, you get to see the benefits now instead of imaging how the wealth will be used […]
Dynasty trusts are making a big comeback under the 2001 tax law. Before the estate tax was enacted many years ago, dynasty trusts were the standard way to ensure family wealth was preserved and grew through several generations. Now, with the estate tax being phased out more families can emphasize the non-tax goals of estate […]
You don’t need cash to put a sizeable tax deduction on this year’s tax return. If you have some appreciated assets, you have a way to keep the taxman at bay. The best assets to use are your first or second home and securities, such as stocks or mutual funds. Pick the proper strategy and […]