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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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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 […]


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 […]


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 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 […]

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Estate Planning With The Flexible Irrevocable Trust

April 1, 2003

Estate Planning is getting more difficult for many of us. An estate plan these days needs flexibility. The estate tax law might change, the value of property in the estate fluctuates, and personal circumstances can change. Flexibility is fairly easy to put into a will with the “but it” clause I’ve discussed in past visits. […]

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 […]


How to do Annual Estate Planning Financial Check-Up?

February 1, 2003

The early part of the year is a good time for a quick financial checkup and to evaluate the progress we’re making toward financial security for ourselves and loved ones. You probably are working on your tax return anyway, so it takes only a bit more time to answer the simple question, “How am I […]

estate planning

Best Ways to Avoid Estate Planning Mistakes

January 1, 2003

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 […]


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