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:
A will is one of the simplest yet most powerful documents you can write. A will can decide what happens to valuable property, even billions of dollars worth. It can decide who becomes the guardian of minor children, who controls a business or other entity, and how much of your wealth goes to the government. […]
I’ve been hearing a lot from parents and grandparents who set up Uniform Gift To Minors Act accounts for the youngsters and now have second thoughts. The problem with these accounts, as I’ve reported in past visits, is that once the child hits age 18 (21 in some states), the account is all his. There’s […]
There’s a big down-side to the boom in stocks and other financial assets. When the value of the assets you own goes up, so do potential estate and gift taxes. If you don’t take action, the IRS could end up with more of your estate than your loved ones. One easy way to handle the […]
Not everyone who puts together an estate plan is married. In fact, more and more estates are those of single people. A single person has Estate Planning considerations different from those of a married couple and actually might require more planning. Because the unique planning concerns of singles rarely are discussed, singles often make key […]
You can leave your heirs the gift of almost perpetual tax free growth. That’s not a small gift, and it is one your heirs are likely to appreciate as each year passes. It is easy to do, thanks to Congress, and it won’t cost you much. The vehicle you use to set up this tax-free […]
Estate planning doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal full of words and concepts that only lawyers understand. For most married couples, there are two tools that are part of almost every estate plan and three trusts from which to choose one or more. They are the foundation of every estate plan. There are other […]
You’ve probably seen the promotions for those tax-free “investments” that give a 10 to 1 return on your money. When you get past the initial pitch, you find that the investment is a life insurance policy that pays off for your heirs, not you. As part of the promotions, you’ll learn that the best way […]
You need an estate plan, and this is the time of year when many people consider finally drawing up or revising their plans. An estate plan should be tailored for the individual. Contrary to what you’ll hear in some estate planning seminars, there aren’t many strategies that should be in every estate plan. But there […]