Estate planning is more than just avoiding probate and creating a tax strategy. It’s about creating a legacy and protecting your family for the short and long term, explains the article “Create A Holistic Estate Plan Now For Bigger Payoffs In The Future” from Forbes. The process begins with as much disclosure as possible. That means talking with your estate planning attorney about the challenges your family faces, as well as the assets to be left for loved ones.
One change to the tax code can disrupt decades of careful planning and leave people scrambling to protect loved ones. Market tumult can require assets to be sold to meet cash flow needs. Charitable contributions may also need to be reviewed and possibly changed, if the family’s asset level changes.
There are three aspects to consider when creating an estate plan: a lifetime spending strategy, a charitable legacy and bequests. All of these are impacted by taxes and need to be reviewed as a whole.
Lifetime spending strategy. These questions are centered on your goals and plans. Where do you want to live during retirement and how do you wish to live, travel and entertain? Will you stay in place and focus on charitable organizations, or travel throughout the year? It’s good to set a budget and stress-test it to see what different outcomes may arise.
A family that owns businesses or large real estate holdings may benefit from strategies, like family limited partnerships. A sale of the business to an outsider or a family member could create many different options, and all should be considered.
Charitable gift planning. Estate planning offers a way to clarify charitable giving goals and create a road map for how gifting can be transformed into a legacy. A well-planned charitable gift strategy can also minimize estate taxes and maximize the future of the gift, for both the family and the charities you favor.
A Charitable Remainder Trust is used to provide an income stream during your lifetime and reach gifting goals at the same time. One way to accomplish this is to transfer an asset, like highly appreciated stocks or bonds, into an irrevocable trust, thereby removing the asset from your taxable estate. The trustee may then sell the asset at market value and reinvest, creating a lifelong income stream for you or a beneficiary.
Leaving assets, not estate tax bills, for heirs. Families who own multiple properties in their own names or in a single LLC can lead to a lot of administrative headaches when the owners die. One simple fix is to place each property into a separate LLC, which increases the availability of strategic tax savings.
Another way to minimize estate taxes is through the use of life insurance. This is a strategy to do while you are still relatively healthy, as it becomes increasing difficult to obtain once you turn 60 or 70.
All of these strategies take knowledge and time to set up, so creating an estate plan and working through the many different strategies is best done with an experienced estate planning attorney and before any trigger events occur.
Reference: Forbes (April 6, 2021) “Create A Holistic Estate Plan Now For Bigger Payoffs In The Future”