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:
Avoiding taxes is not the most important part of Estate Planning. In coming years, it will be even less important for many people. A more important part of estate planning often is avoiding family fights and disappointment while passing wealth the way you want. Here are the key issues to resolve to avoid problems. Share […]
Trusts can solve many problems, making them a vital estate planning tool. When an IRA is involved, however, trusts must be used with great care. The IRS changed the rules to make things easier, but all the rules still aren’t clear and traps remain. Trusts are a good way to leave wealth to those who […]
What is the best way to get your grandchildren started on the right foot financially? Most people get the answer to this question only half-right. A goal of many grandparents is to provide some financial support for their grandchildren. Some grandparents put money aside for college education expenses. Others set up trusts, custodial accounts, or […]
Financial services firms are lagging behind the IRS in making it easier to pass IRA wealth to succeeding generations. Because of this, the key document used in wealth transfer plans frequently is a time bomb. It is neglected or isn’t properly completed. The beneficiary designation form is the key document for passing on wealth held […]
You need an estate plan even if you don’t expect to owe taxes. Even if you expect to owe taxes, tax planning still should not be the focus of your planning. It is more important to decide who should receive the wealth, how much each should receive, when the wealth should be transferred, and how […]
Many things changed in the last two years. Those changes should lead to revised estate plans and new approaches to Estate Planning. The biggest change of course is the loss of $7 trillion to $8 trillion in stock market wealth. There also is uncertainty about the strength of the economy and the outlook for future […]
The post-mortem activities involving baseball great Ted Williams spotlight an issue that rarely is discussed. Who has the final say on the funeral and burial arrangements? Most of you will recall that after Ted Williams passed away, his son apparently had the body flown to a firm in Arizona, where the body was frozen in […]
The IRS turned IRA planning upside down with new regulations in January 2001 and again in 2002. The new rules might change whom you name as IRA beneficiaries. Much IRA planning used to involve minimizing required distributions by navigating the complicated tax rules. Now, we can plan differently. You can name the beneficiary that makes […]