Estate Planning for the Rest of Us
May 1st, 2023 at 7:59 PM
You need an estate plan, regardless of whether or not you are among the ultra-rich. As recent news has shown, even those who have won the lottery or have substantial wealth can fall victim to poor estate planning.
While federal estate taxes may not concern you, you need a will to have your wishes honored after your death. Without a will, state law dictates the distribution of your assets, which may not align with your intentions. Additionally, if you have minor children, a will allows you to name a guardian to care for them in the event of your untimely passing.
Your heirs will want to avoid probate because it can be a costly and time-consuming legal process. A living trust gives you a valuable tool to avoid probate. By transferring legal ownership of your assets to the trust, you can ensure that your beneficiaries receive them without suffering through probate.
You can amend your living trust as circumstances change, providing flexibility and control over your assets.
It is also essential to keep your beneficiary designations up-to-date, as they take precedence over wills and living trusts regarding asset distribution.
Additionally, if your estate will suffer from federal or state death taxes, you should plan to minimize your exposure.
Estate planning is not a one-time event but a process that you should review and update regularly to accommodate life changes and fluctuations in estate and death tax rules. We recommend checking your estate plan annually to ensure it aligns with your wishes and circumstances.
Mark S. Fineberg, CPA