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Estate Planning

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:

 

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estate planning

Estate Planning: Charitable Annuity vs. Charitable Trust

November 1, 2003

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, […]

estate planning

Estate Planning: IRAs and Trusts Part II

November 1, 2003

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 […]

estate plan

7 Ways to Overcome Estate Planning Obstacles

August 1, 2003

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 […]

reviewing-your-will-and-estate-plan

Reviewing Your Will and Estate Planning

July 1, 2003

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 […]

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simple-strategies-to-protect-assets

Ten Simple Estate Planning Strategies To Protect Assets

June 1, 2003

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, […]

how-to-reduce-asset-wastage-in-your-estate

How to Reduce Asset Wastage In Your Estate Planning

June 1, 2003

Estate Planning is much more than tax planning, as I’ve said in past visits. One function of estate planning is to reduce the ‘leakage’ caused by costs and other expenses. There are steps you can take now to reduce the wasting of assets. Here’s my list of the key steps. Write it yourself. A lawyer […]

family-documents-to-secure

Six Kinds of Estate Planning Family Documents and Forms to Secure

June 1, 2003

Some documents are so important that they, or copies, should be stored securely. I don’t recommend a safe deposit box, for reasons explained in my June 2002 visit, which is available in the web site Archive. Consider a fireproof container or keeping copies at both the home and the office. The Federal Emergency Management Agency […]

estate planning

How Low Interest Rates Can Boost Your Estate Planning

April 1, 2003

Low interest rates and depressed stock prices are making a classic Estate Planning strategy significantly more attractive. People who could benefit from the strategy should look into it before interest rates rise. This tool has the un-sexy name of grantor retained annuity trust, or GRAT. It has the sexy result of allowing you to pass […]

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