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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The required minimum distribution (RMD) rules limit the extent to which an individual can use the tax deferral of an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. The RMD rules dictate when distributions must be made from the retirement plans of certain taxpayers. The rationale behind the RMD rules is that Congress provided the tax benefits […]
Estates that are valued at $3 million and higher should have flexibility in their plans this year. The estate and gift tax law is likely to change soon, as described in the previous article. You should act now to avoid the worst effects of the new law. But your plan needs some flexibility because we […]
The push for higher taxes has begun, and estate taxes are among the first in line. Millions of people who haven’t had to worry about estate and gift taxes in recent years need to rethink their plans. Congress first went after your legacy and estate plan in 2019 in the Setting Every Community Up for […]
The COVID-19 pandemic caused more people to retire early than the number of people that it forced to delay retirement. That reality is going to cause the retirement trust fund to run out of money faster than previously expected. More than 3.1 million Americans aged 55 or older plan to apply for their Social Security […]
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Very slowly but surely, estate planning law is catching up to modern technology. The latest development paves the way for electronic wills in most states. An electronic will, or e-will, is one that recognizes the traditional formalities of a will when they’re in an electronic format. An e-will can be written in an electronic medium, […]
A good estate plan includes a lot more than will. Among the documents to be included are those about medical care. The traditional document is a living will but I’ve downplayed the importance of living wills for years since a better document is the medical care proxy or power of attorney. There are a number […]
Your estate planning is part of your legacy, but your legacy should be more than financial assets, material possessions and legal documents. For more and more people, the final touch in their estate planning is what sometimes is known as an ethical will. Others have called it a legacy letter, heritage will, family philosophy statement, […]
Many of us can learn a lesson about the importance of choosing executors from the legal actions involving the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson, the late entertainer known as “Prince.” Prince was a successful musician, entertainer and record producer. He died at age 57 and left a valuable and complicated estate. He apparently left no […]