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:
The venerable qtip trust is an even more valuable estate planning tool for married couples after the 2001 tax law. Traditionally, the QTIP could save heirs a bundle of money while ensuring that wealth is distributed as you intended. But the trust can give your estate plan additional flexibility that is a key to dealing […]
You don’t need cash to put a sizeable tax deduction on this year’s tax return. If you have some appreciated assets, you have a way to keep the taxman at bay. The best assets to use are your first or second home and securities, such as stocks or mutual funds. Pick the proper strategy and […]
I have an UGMA account for my grandchild (or child). Can I (or should I) switch to a college savings plan or a trust? I regularly get variations of that question. A Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) account is the traditional vehicle to save and invest for a youngster. (It’s UTMA in some states.) […]
Note: These regulations were updated ago about a year after this article. Please see the article in the June 2002 Grandkid’s Watch for an update on the final regulations. Click here. An important decision faces many of you. Make it carefully and the odds are greatly reduced that between estate taxes and income taxes the […]
A new tax law isn’t the only reason to revisit your estate plan. Investment market changes and falling interest rates change the effects of many estate plans, often without their creators knowing the consequences. Here’s a guide to some the effects the changes of the last 18 months might have on your estate plan. The […]
Forget all you’ve learned about helping to pay for college. The rules for most people aren’t what you’ve heard. College is so expensive, especially at private schools, that most students get some form of financial aid. Some of the schools boast about the percentage of students who get aid. Even loans are financial aid, and […]
Visit any area with a lot of older Americans, and you’ll see plenty of ads for free seminars on Living Trusts by lawyers and financial profes-sionals. Recently, the seminars even sprouted up in my area and seem to be spreading. There aren’t too many lawyers who will go to the trouble of presenting a free […]
When owners think about preserving the family business for the next generation, they think about estate taxes. You can do a lot to continue the family firm through tax strategies such as annual gifts, family limited partnerships, dynasty trusts, and the like. But tax planning is at most only half the job. Half of all […]