ESTATE PLANNING Strategies
THE IMPORTANCE OF ESTATE PLANNING
The concept of estate planning strategies is often misconstrued as only necessary for the very wealthy or the elderly. The fact is that anyone who has someone dependent on them should consider having an estate plan. An estate plan can be as simple as a will or as complicated as multiple trusts with terms such as CRUT, CRAT, ILIT, and so on. As our clients age, and their wealth and dependent needs change, it is important that their estate plans are reviewed regularly.
Younger clients typically focus their estate plan around making sure that their spouse and children can maintain their lifestyle. Additionally, some clients desire to ensure that college or retirement is fully funded for their loved ones should they die prematurely.
As clients age, estate planning continues to revolve around their spouse and children, but it also begins to involve future planning as they age. Now they begin discussions about what living arrangements are preferred for the client if they are unable to care for themselves or have a spouse care for them. We discuss whether their beneficiaries are prepared to properly manage any assets they would inherit if the client unexpectedly passes away.
In the later years of life, clients tend to shift their estate planning focus toward preserving their assets for future generations of their families. They also want to know how to minimize the potential impact of federal and state inheritance taxes on the assets they are trying to pass on. We help clients understand small shifts they can make in their assets that can have a large impact on the amount their loved ones receive once they pass.
Estate planning is typically a collaborative process with the client, their attorney, and their tax advisor. We have significant experience working with these other professionals to help make sure you have the proper legal documents for your estate plan.
OUR ESTATE PLANNING SERVICES
The transfer of wealth from one individual to others can be a complex process. The process can be further complicated if it involves the sudden passing of a loved one or the cognitive decline of an elder member of the family. The more forethought that can be put into how you would like to be cared for as you age and who you would like to receive your assets once you pass will make it easier for those caring for you and can ensure that your wishes are executed.
LONG-TERM CARE PLANNING
The need for long-term care has grown dramatically over the past 50 years. While we cannot predict how our physical and mental selves will age, we need to prepare for the possibility that we may need assistance. One of the key things we discuss is living arrangements, including living at home, moving in with other family members, or moving to an adult community or coordinated care community. We also need to determine what assets will be needed to pay for the cost of care or if purchasing insurance to help reduce the cost is a consideration.
Properly naming your beneficiaries can be one of the simplest ways to ensure your assets are correctly transferred. However, this is often one of the most commonly forgotten changes as people age and their family dynamic changes. Too often, we hear stories of unintended beneficiaries receiving assets because of a failure to update or properly name a beneficiary. Our goal is to help you clearly define who you want to receive your assets at your passing, as well as ensuring this is reviewed regularly to account for any changes.
TRUST FUNDING & GUIDANCE
We commonly see living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and charitable remainder trusts in the course of our planning with clients. While we do not create trusts, we are typically involved in funding trusts. This can include opening new accounts in the name of a trust, properly changing the beneficiary of an existing account to fall in line with a trust, or procuring the necessary life insurance for a trust. We are also able to suggest when it may make sense for a client to consider a trust to carry out their wishes. Trusts can be a powerful tool to avoid probate costs, minimize estate taxes, and keep your final wishes private.
Estate tax law has been fluctuating dramatically over the past several decades. We keep abreast of changes to the tax law and work quickly with clients and their tax professionals to help minimize the impact of these changes. There are many strategies clients can employ to help reduce the likelihood of significant taxes on their estate when they die. We have the knowledge and experience to provide options clients can discuss with their attorneys and tax professionals.
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There are many moving parts to a well-executed estate plan. Contact our local team today to start the conversation with one of our leading Financial Advisors.
Equitable Advisors, its affiliates and financial professionals do not provide legal or tax advice. Individuals should consult with their personal legal and tax advisors regarding their estate planning needs based on their specific situation.