You have often heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you.” For this reason, it is important to have a sound estate plan in place to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and will provide for the security of your dependents and loved ones. It can also transfer or liquidate business interests avoiding complications and confusion.
Estate planning is essentially a collection of steps taken to manage an individual’s assets in the event of their incapacitation or death. This includes the bequest of assets to heirs and the settlement of estate taxes. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate law. Some of the major estate planning tasks include:
- Create a will
- Establish a guardian for living dependents
- Limit taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries
- Create a living will and designate medical powers of attorney, thus allowing you to make difficult medical decisions while you are able to think clearly.
- Name an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will and provide him with a letter that lists all of your
- financial accounts
- debts and
- practical information such as computer passwords, safe combinations, location of assets, contact information for any charitable beneficiary, etc.
- Establish and/or Update beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance, IRAs and 401(k)s
- Make funeral arrangements
- Establish annual gifting to reduce the taxable estate (if estate taxes are an issue)
- Set up durable powers of attorney (POA) to direct other assets and investments
- Establish one of more living trusts and title all of your assets accordingly so that they are dispersed according to the instructions without having to go through probate
Estate planning is an ongoing process and should be started as soon as one has any measurable asset base. Lack of adequate estate planning can cause undue financial burdens to loved ones (estate taxes can run higher than 40%), so at the very minimum a will should be set up even if the taxable estate is not considered large.
Do not hesitate to contact John Tramontozzi at Tramontozzi Law Offices, John is experienced in assisting families through the process of estate planning and distribution and his respectful and considered handling of your personal legal matters will ensure that you and your loved ones cans feel confident that your wishes are respected.