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Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is the process of preparing for the potential passing of an individual. It involves a review of one’s overall assets (including life insurance, businesses owned, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, automobiles, boats, homes/property) and possessions and planning as to the best way to transfer that wealth. Consideration is given heavily to tax consequences, and ease of transfer of items via methods which can avoid the timely and expensive probate process in court.

What are the typical Estate Planning Documents?

Typical estate planning documents include a Last Will & Testament, Revocable Trust, Designation of Healthcare Surrogate. These items are typically prepared by an attorney in the state of your residence for a fee, or can be purchased online at a reduced expense via companies which have hired attorneys to prepare more general forms in advance, then tailor them to suit your needs.

What is the Purpose of Estate Planning?

To plan for the transfer of wealth/assets/business succession with the minimization of taxes, and ease of transfer (via avoidance of a lengthy and expensive court process of disputes in court). The applicable taxes typically associated with the idea of estate planning are the federal income tax, gift tax, and estate tax. Although under the more recent tax law changes in 2018 the estate tax has doubled the amount that may be passed tax free to heirs/others through 2025 at this point. The estate tax exemption is now set at $11 million for individuals and $22 million for married couples. This is obviously a very generous benefits to wealthy families.

Some methods used to avoid the probate process and transfer assets with ease at a basic level include use of revocable trusts in conjunction with a last will and testament, jointly titling or properly titling accounts so that they pass without court intervention. It is recommended to consult an estate planning attorney to consider your overall situation and make recommendation/draft the proper plan as each state has very specific requirements and laws.

Where Can I Find Affordable Estate Planning Documents and Help?

LegalZoom is an online legal forms data bank which offers live legal assistance in preparing the appropriate forms at an affordable price. Check it out by Clicking Here. 

For an even more affordable “self help” option on estate planning, Click Here.