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:
It’s the little things that often sabotage an estate plan. You can work with your estate planner to get the right gifting program, trusts, and other strategies. But a mundane detail or two still could undo a lot of your work. Whether the estate is a few hundred thousand dollars or millions of dollars, it […]
Let’s take a strategy we developed last month, build on it, and turn it into something very powerful. In the “defective” grantor trust we discussed last month the grantor of the trust is taxed on all its income, but the trust is excluded from the grantor’s estate. The combination lets you leave more tax-free dollars […]
Would you like your grandchildren to end up with only 20% of what you intended? That’s what happens in most cases. The government doesn’t want you to pass wealth directly to your grandchildren. It wants the money to stay in your estate, get it hit by estate taxes, go to your children, get it hit […]
Almost no estate plan is a lost cause. An estate can be improved when it appears to be too late. In fact, heirs and beneficiaries can make some smart moves to reduce taxes even after the loved one has passed away. Whenever you are dealing with someone else’s estate, you should be aware that a […]
Sometimes when Congress closes one tax loophole it creates another. This is especially likely when Congress doesn’t coordinate the income and estate tax sections of the law. That’s how complicated the tax law is. And it opens up an opportunity for you with “grantor trusts.” A grantor trust in the income tax law is one […]
New rulings from the IRS make it easier to preserve your IRA for a generation or more. Your children and grandchildren can use tax deferral even longer, and IRAs can be customized for each heir. But you have to take action to benefit from these rulings, and you should leave instructions for your heirs. Otherwise, […]
A will is one of the simplest yet most powerful documents you can write. A will can decide what happens to valuable property, even billions of dollars worth. It can decide who becomes the guardian of minor children, who controls a business or other entity, and how much of your wealth goes to the government. […]
I’ve been hearing a lot from parents and grandparents who set up Uniform Gift To Minors Act accounts for the youngsters and now have second thoughts. The problem with these accounts, as I’ve reported in past visits, is that once the child hits age 18 (21 in some states), the account is all his. There’s […]