For most people, estate planning is not something they think about. They believe that they just need a will that they update once every few years. However, you can do so much more with estate planning than just write a will. There are many different types of plans that allow you to customize the way your assets pass after death and protect your family from legal wrangling over your property.
Estate planning is all about you and your family
Many people think of estate planning as a process that only involves money. For example, they might say things like:
“I don’t need to worry about estate planning because I’m not rich.”
“I don’t have any money to leave anyone in the first place.”
“Estate planning is for those who have lots of assets or money.”
The truth is that estate planning can benefit anyone with assets—even if all you have is your home and a car! Estate planning helps you make sure your wishes are carried out after death, regardless of how much or how little money you own now.
Estate planning is important
Estate planning is important because it can help you avoid a lot of stress and expense by making sure your assets are distributed as you wish after death. Estate planning also provides peace of mind by reducing the risk that heirs might have to go through probate court proceedings after they inherit your estate.
The process of getting an estate plan in place can be challenging, but with the right guidance and resources, you can do this important work on your own or with help from an attorney. Many people find it helpful to involve their spouse or other family members in creating an estate plan; however, if they’re unable to participate due to illness or other reasons, it’s still possible for an individual person to create one on his or her own.
A large element is naming beneficiaries for retirement plans such as 401k accounts; life insurance policies; annuities; IRA accounts; etc. If these documents aren’t updated when someone dies (and sometimes even if they are), problems may arise during probate regarding how the beneficiary receives payments from those accounts.* Planning out how property should pass through joint tenancy ownership (in which two people own real estate together) versus tenancy-in-common (where each person owns his/her share outright). This consideration affects both taxes and access rights after death.* Developing powers of attorney so that someone else has legal authority over financial matters while one is incapacitated.* Designating guardianship arrangements so children will be cared for properly if parents aren’t able under law themselves.* Creating healthcare directives so end-of-life care choices have been made ahead of time
When should estate planning begin?
Estate planning is a proactive process. If you haven’t started your estate plan yet, it’s not too late to get started.
Your family needs to know that they are part of the plan and how their needs will be taken care of if something happens to you. It is important that they understand their roles in the event of your death or incapacity so they can make educated decisions about what steps need to be taken on your behalf.
Plan for the unexpected
At some point, you may be seriously ill or injured. You may lose your job or a loved one. If you do, who will manage and distribute your estate?
How much time do you have to plan for these things? It’s difficult to predict when an emergency will strike, but it’s never too early to start planning and making sure that the people closest to you can continue their lives without unnecessary hardships after your death.
As uncomfortable as it might be for many people, thinking about death is often necessary when beginning the process of estate planning.
Are estate planning fees tax deductible?
You can deduct estate planning fees on your taxes. This includes any legal fees and commissions you paid to create a will or trust.
In most cases, you may deduct the full amount of the fee without itemizing deductions on your tax return—even if you don’t have enough other expenses to reach the standard deduction threshold. In some cases, however, you may only be allowed a partial deduction or no deduction at all. For example:
You cannot take any deductions if your estate is worth less than $5 million and/or its gross value does not include real estate (i.e., only cash and investments). If this is true for you, then consider hiring an attorney who charges hourly rates instead of by-the-project rates (so that your bills will be lower).
If an attorney sends bills in installments rather than one lump sum at the end of each project (for example: “I’ll send quarterly bills until 2022 when everything’s paid off!”), then only 60% of each month’s bill could be deducted from taxes as opposed to 100%. However , there are other ways around this rule too . . .
Estate planning when you have no family
If you don’t have family, it’s important to make sure that your assets and life insurance policies are properly handled. You can do this by naming a beneficiary for your assets, setting up a will and naming a guardian for any children or pets you may have.
Estate planning is a process that allows you to control the disposition of your assets after death. It’s important to review your estate planning documents regularly and make sure they reflect changes in your life, such as marriage or divorce, new children or grandchildren. It’s also good to remember that the transfer of your wealth is simple when you plan early. If you have not taken the time to properly plan and you’re ready to get started, we can help and will work alongside your attorney and other service providers (like your accountant) as needed to ensure your accounts are set up properly to meet your goals. Get in touch with one of our experts today to get started.
Financial Planning and Advisory Services are offered through Prosperity Capital Advisors (“PCA”), an SEC registered investment adviser. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Intelliplan Financial and PCA are separate, non-affiliated entities. PCA does not provide tax or legal advice.
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