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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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financial-emergency-plan

How to Prepare Your Financial Emergency Kit

September 1, 2000

You might have solid investments and a good estate plan. But your financial planning isn’t complete without a financial emergency kit. An ideal time to put one together is when you are working on your estate plan. A financial emergency kit is a set of tools that can keep a difficult time from becoming much […]

total-return-trust

The Modern Way To Give: The Total Return Trust

August 1, 2000

Too many trusts these days are set up the old-fashioned way. I see them all the time. The result is that all the beneficiaries of the trust are short-changed, and they often end up angry at each other, the trustee, and the grantor. A once-generous endowment eventually becomes a legacy of discontent. Suppose you want […]

estate planning

The Best Way to Structure IRA Gifts

May 1, 2000

An IRA often is one of the largest assets in an estate. Tax laws make it one of the most complicated. That’s why IRA planning is a critical element of many estate plans. If you have a large IRA are considering charitable gifts as part of your estate plan, review carefully the alternatives to find […]

irs-approved-tax-benefits

IRS Approved Tax Benefits for Charitable Remainder Trusts

April 1, 2000

Taxpayers can get great income and estate tax benefits from one strategy – without being aggressive. The IRS recently said it would stop fighting a strategy that tax advisors have advocated for years. Even better, as a result of the bull market this tool is ideal for more people. If you’ve been reading Retirement Watch […]

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trusts-you-should-avoid

Trusts You Should Avoid

January 1, 2000

Trusts are hot, and the IRS has declared war on them. It has increased staff and is planning more audits of trusts. But most Retirement Watch readers can relax. Trusts put together by the scam artists are those the IRS is going after. These are trusts that purport to eliminate taxes without changing your use […]

how-to-protect-your-most-valuable-asset

How to Protect Your IRA

January 1, 2000

Would you spend a minute or less deciding the fate of your most valuable asset? Do you want a mutual fund or other financial institution to make the decision? Most people actually spend less than a minute designating the beneficiaries for their IRAs or other qualified retirement plans. And they give little or no thought […]

estate

How to Beat Little-Known Estate Plan Traps

December 1, 1999

It’s the little things that often sabotage an estate plan. You can work with your estate planner to get the right gifting program, trusts, and other strategies. But a mundane detail or two still could undo a lot of your work. Whether the estate is a few hundred thousand dollars or millions of dollars, it […]

big-benefits-from-an-overlooked-charitable-trust

Big Benefits from an Overlooked Charitable Trust

December 1, 1999

Let’s take a strategy we developed last month, build on it, and turn it into something very powerful. In the “defective” grantor trust we discussed last month the grantor of the trust is taxed on all its income, but the trust is excluded from the grantor’s estate. The combination lets you leave more tax-free dollars […]

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