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:
Your estate plan needs an up-to-date power of attorney (POA), but it also needs more.You and your heirs need to know some things about the POA, both its uses and limits. You’ll also find that you need more than a POA for you and the estate to be protected.Bills must be paid and assets managed, […]
Estate planning has either been in the background or labeled an afterthought for many people in recent years. The reasons for that are fading. If you have not done so, it’s time to create or revise your estate plan. In this month’s Retirement Watch Spotlight Series, I take a detailed look at the most frequent […]
Some estate planning decisions are more difficult than others. Some of those decisions have the potential to cause problems, even tearing a family apart after the decisions are revealed.There are three especially difficult decisions that have the potential to cause long-lasting problems. Who inherits the personal items? Most estates have a lot of what the […]
The terms “last will and testament” and “will” often are used interchangeably and today mean the same thing. Both refer to a legal document that outlines a person’s final wishes regarding the distribution of assets and property after death and often other matters, such as the guardianship of minor children. Will is often used as […]
In last week’s issue of Retirement Watch Weekly I presented 10 Steps to Avoid the Probate Process. Since this can be a complicated process, I’ll expand on those and explain the most commonly used probate forms. Probate can be a long and expensive process in which an estate is settled and distributed to the next […]
Happy New Year! A few months ago on the pages of Retirement Watch Weekly, I shared a story called: What You Need To Know about the Probate Process. This was a very popular topic with my readers, so I decided to expand on it. Let’s begin with a recap of exactly what probate is. In […]
Hesitate to revise or create your estate plan this year and you’re likely to regret it in a few years. The environment for estate tax planning is unlikely ever to be more attractive than it is now, as I’ve said before. The estate tax exempt amount is scheduled to be slashed in half after 2025 […]
Guide to Wills: The Definitive Guide to Your Last Will and Testament addresses one of the most important documents for guarding wealth, providing for loved ones, and achieving other goals. Regardless of the size of an estate, the will is a critical part of an estate plan. It guides the distribution of assets […]