An estate plan is a set of documents which contains instructions for the disposition of your assets following death. It may also include health care directives or powers of attorney to assist with medical care or decision making if you are incapacitated.
Developing an estate plan with an attorney or a trusted advisor can help ensure that your wishes will be carried out.
Matching your plan to your needs
Sound estate planning is one of the most important steps you can take to preserve your legacy and protect your loved ones. Some reasons for preparing a plan include:
- Setting up a trust to benefit your heirs and/or charities
- Reducing the tax impact on your estate
- Determining how to divide property
- Caring for family members with special needs
- Avoiding the probate process and making sure beneficiary designations are current
Estate planning considerations
When creating or updating an estate plan, consider:
- Your personal goals and those of your spouse
- The size of your estate for tax purposes and the assets available to fund your bequests
- Consult an advisor to help you create a net worth statement and a list of financial assets (pension or 401k plan, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank savings and checking accounts, homes, collectibles)
- Services available through your employer such as will preparation, legal services or estate planning resources
- Significant changes in your life, such as a divorce, marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, the death of a close family member
- Changes to the estate tax laws – both state and federal
This information is a general discussion of the relevant federal tax laws provided to promote ideas that may benefit a taxpayer. It is not intended for, nor can it be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding federal tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek the advice of their own advisors regarding any tax and legal issues specific to their situation.