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Estate & Legacy Planning

Although congressional action has effectively eliminated federal estate and gift taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans, there is still a vital need to do estate planning.

Why? There are several key reasons: (1) to be sure that all of your wishes are followed after death; (2) to plan for state inheritance or estate taxes, if you live (or own property) in a state which levies such a tax; and (3) to plan in advance how to pay for any estate settlement costs. Federal estate tax law may have changed, but estate planning still matters.

At a person’s demise there are certain typical problems which, if not planned for, create a burden on those who are left behind. Proper estate planning can eliminate or reduce these problems.

Financial Burdens

  • Estate settlement costs are too high: These costs consist primarily of probate fees and death taxes.
    • Probate fees: These are generally paid to the executor of the estate and the attorney who assists with the probate.
    • Death taxes: Estates that exceed certain amounts may be subject to both state and federal death taxes.
  • Estate assets are improperly arranged:
    • Liquidity: There are not enough liquid (cash type) assets to pay estate settlement costs.
    • Cash flow: There is not enough income to care for loved ones left behind, e.g., spouse and minor children

Transfer of Assets

  • Estate assets may be subject to probate delays and expense
  • Assets transferred to minors may be in cumbersome guardianship accounts until they attain age 18 (or 21 in some states) and are then distributed outright to the children. A court supervised guardianship may be required.
  • Additional death taxes may be paid because there was no pre-death planning.
  • Without planning, estate assets may not pass to the intended heirs.

Care of Minors

  • Guardians: Parents can nominate a guardian for their minor children in a will
  • Asset management: If the wrong persons are chosen to manage the assets left for the minors, the assets may be lost or unnecessarily reduced.

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Take Steps Today to Manage Your Estate Tomorrow

In this ebook, you'll learn the critical elements of an estate strategy. Considering these crucial details may help an executor uphold your values, goals, and desires for your estate.

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