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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

10 Steps to Avoid the Probate Process

January 3, 2021

Happy New Year! A few months ago on the pages of Retirement Watch Weekly, I shared a story called: What You Need To Know about the Probate Process. This was a very popular topic with my readers, so I decided to expand on it. Let’s begin with a recap of exactly what probate is. In […]

Plan Today for Changes in Estate and Gift Taxes

December 17, 2020

Hesitate to revise or create your estate plan this year and you’re likely to regret it in a few years. The environment for estate tax planning is unlikely ever to be more attractive than it is now, as I’ve said before. The estate tax exempt amount is scheduled to be slashed in half after 2025 […]

estate planning

Guide to Wills: The Definitive Guide to Your Last Will and Testament

December 4, 2020

  Guide to Wills: The Definitive Guide to Your Last Will and Testament addresses one of the most important documents for guarding wealth, providing for loved ones, and achieving other goals.    Regardless of the size of an estate, the will is a critical part of an estate plan. It guides the distribution of assets […]

Estate, Gift and Income Tax Amounts Increased for 2021

November 27, 2020

The IRS announced the annual inflation increases for various tax provisions, effective as of January 1, 2021.The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption increased to $11.7 million from $11.58 million. A couple can jointly exclude $23.4 million. The annual gift tax exclusion remains $15,000 for 2021. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is […]

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Estate Planning for IRAs After the Secure Act

November 27, 2020

Estate plans for taxpayers with substantial individual retirement accounts (IRAs) were upended by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, enacted in December 2019. The key provision of the SECURE Act ended the Stretch IRA. In a Stretch IRA, the beneficiary maximized the IRA’s tax deferred com-pounding of income and gains by […]


How to Get an Estate Tax ID Number

November 12, 2020

  The federal estate tax is a tax paid after a person’s death on the value of the person’s property.    A large amount of an estate is exempt from the federal estate tax. In 2021, the exempt amount is $11.7 million. The amount is indexed for inflation each year. So, only the wealthiest estates […]

estate planning

How to Reduce or Avoid Estate Taxes

November 12, 2020

  The federal estate tax is a tax on the value of property a decedent owned at the time of his or her death.   The tax is paid only by estates that exceed the exemption amount, which is $11.7 million for 2021. It is indexed for inflation each year.    Tax rates range from […]

Estate Planning

Understanding the Estate Tax

November 12, 2020

  The federal estate tax is paid on the value of property a person owned at the time of his or her death.   In 2021, the federal estate tax only applies to estates with values exceeding $11.7 million. The amount is indexed for inflation each year.   How Estate Tax Works   To determine […]

August 2022:
Congress Comes for your Retirement Money
A devastating new law has just been enacted, with serious consequences for anyone holding an IRA, pension, or 401(k). Fortunately, there are still steps you can take to sidestep Congress, starting with this ONE SIMPLE MOVE.

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