Tax, trust and estate planning on your own can be intricate and risky. This means dealing with state taxes, probate courts, unfair appraisals, health care concerns, life insurance, IRA’s 401 K’s and the list goes on. Being aware of your legal and financial rights can help save you from owing more when everything is said and done. Our estate planning and tax experts here at Bodine Perry have laid out some important bottom lines for high net-worth families when it comes to planning your tax, trust and estate needs.
First thing’s first, make sure that you properly define your estate planning goals. These goals can include protecting your inheritance, minimizing estate taxes, avoiding probate and appointing trustees. Next, organize and construct your estate planning team. This would include experts that you can trust regarding the matters at hand, those in the field of law, finance, and taxes specifically. The next best step to take would be to review and sign all estate planning documents. These documents consist of your will, trusts, health care and power of attorney.
What is Probate and How to Avoid it
Probate is the legal process through which the deceased’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries. Any debt owed to creditors is also paid off. If there is no will and assets have no designated beneficiary, the remaining assets will be distributed through the court- supervised probate process. The probate process also allows individuals to challenge the will.
It’s not uncommon for an estate planning attorney to persuade you into signing a traditional will. Why would they do that? Because the estate planning attorney can often get away with selling the idea that a living trust is more costly therefore not being the best option. They also reap the benefits of you signing a traditional will than if you were to sign a living will. A living trust comes with a high price in the beginning but if you want to dodge the probate process, deciding on a living will is a must.
If minimizing your estate taxes is a goal that you have, it can be broken down into smaller categories such as:
- Income taxes
- Gift taxes
- Estate taxes
- Generation-skipping taxes
It’s important to understand how and if these taxes will have an effect on your estate and the inheritance that will be received by your beneficiary. Have your financial advisor or attorney go over the specifics because some states impose their own estate tax.
Trusts are one of the most adequate ways to lower your estate tax liability and help protect your assets from creditors, legal claims and divorce. As said earlier, a revocable living trust is your best bet when it comes to estate planning. A living trust covers three phases of your life:
- What happens to you and your property when you’re alive and well
- If you were to become incapacitated
- After you die
By using a living trust, you are able to avoid probate but not everyone knows that it is a great way to keep your estate plan a private matter.
We know how hard you’ve worked to provide for your family so don’t let it slip away with poor planning. Tax, trust and estate planning can be stressful and discouraging without the right help but planning in advance will save your family time, heartache and money. Bodine Perry can help. We offer discussion, recommendations and useful research tools to help make your planning easy and stress-free. Our team is available to assist you through every step of the process. To get started visit bodineperry.com or call (855) 851-8318.