Estate planning, an important part of the financial planning process, helps ensure that your needs will be met during your lifetime, and determines how your assets will be managed after your death. Financial Innovations, LLC assists clients with estate planning and review.
Every state has its own laws, so you should consult an attorney to have your documents reviewed every time you move to a new state.
After your death, successful estate planning transfers assets to your chosen beneficiaries quickly and usually with minimal, if any, tax consequences. The process requires taking an inventory of your assets and creating a Last Will and Testament. In addition, a trust is likely to be established if a key goal is to reduce estate taxes and/or to avoid probate.
Estate planning is not only for the very wealthy. The laws vary on estate tax planning and you should contact your attorney to review the limits and your current estate. Estate planning is the process of smoothly transferring assets to your loved ones, not only for estate tax planning.
The estate planning process includes Advance Directives for Health Care and Financial Powers of Attorney. These are very important documents because they pertain to you while you are still living. An Advance Directive for Health Care expresses your wishes for end-of-life decisions as well as delegating a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to make those decisions. A Financial Power of Attorney designates trusted individuals to take action on your behalf, if you are not able to do so, related to your assets. Establishing powers of attorney is critical because you never know when you will need them. If you do not already have these documents, contact an estate planning attorney who is licensed in the state in which you live.
You can calculate the value of your estate by totaling your assets, subtracting your liabilities, and adding your life insurance. Calculating this value can be an eye-opening experience. By the time you account for your home, investments, retirement savings, and life insurance policies, you may find that your estate is indeed in the taxable category.
Laura K Schilling, principal of Financial Innovations, LLC, is a licensed attorney in Florida and Georgia and can offer legal services to clients. Her legal website is www.estateinnovations.biz
Just as people change, assets and laws change. It may be necessary to adjust your estate plan periodically to reflect these changes in your situation.