Estate Planning In Seven Simple
Make it your goal to
pass on your
values as well as your valuables.
Direct your money as you wish, when
You have the opportunity to direct your money that will
otherwise be forfeit as taxes. This is money that would
not go to your family, business, or favorite causes;
but will be lost in the powerful currents of political
Plan and give to good causes that
support your views, not just institutions that ask
for money. You can also draft documents to enforce
your goals and prevent mission drift from
derailing your philanthropic intentions. For major
gifts you can even set up your own foundations rather
than accepting unrestricted planned giving.
Where to start?
Initially create a will with specific
gifts to individuals and charities, and leave a residuary
bequest (anything left) to a particularly worthy cause.
This easy solution can reflect your values far better
than any bureaucratic settlement by decree. This
simple will can become your outline
for planned giving and estate planning.
Here are your *Seven Rules Of Estate
1) Get started right now!
of writing or updating a will helps frame your intent
for more detailed plans. For instance, just one
added sentence can ensure care for a family
member with special needs. If delayed, planning
may never happen.
a simple will now and
it becomes easier to draft subsequent plans. Later
you and your adviser can personalize
giving plans and correlate them with wealth and capital
management based on this first document.
2) Review even simple plans every
few years, and after
every major life change.
Too often spouses
and families encounter damaging court battles
over estate issues that could have been resolved
in advance. Get heirs and representatives
of bequests and planned giving endowments involved
early in the
estate planning process - this will eliminate
3) Use of qualified professionals
is encouraged, but is not enough.
These are paid salesman and counselors,
don't go with the first opinion you hear, learn as
much as you can, decide for yourself. While tax
considerations may have importance - your philanthropic
giving should always reflect your intent.
Focus primarily on your gift giving goals - not on
changing nuances of law.
4) There are frequently changes
in estate tax treatment.
In the US major changes are
now scheduled to occur 01
Jan 2011. With IRS "look back rules" you
should be planning for these changes now. Trusts of
various types allow both control and ease of change
as circumstances change. Any estate analysis you have
done should address these issues.
5) Gifts made while you are alive
have many benefits.
You get to see them used, you
might acquire current tax deductions, and up to certain
limits they are not taxable to individuals such as
your kids and grand kids. Money given now is
a pleasure you can direct and enjoy, and leaves less
of an estate to run afoul of drifting estate tax laws. This
is also a good time to get
personally involved with charity.
6) Company pension plans, and government
approved retirement plans, should be analyzed with
your overall estate.
You can designate beneficiaries
now, including those you care about, colleges,
organizations and religious groups you support. There
are legal provisions to sign over a retirement account
now for tax benefits, ask your estate tax professionals
if this applies to you.
7) Consider insurance policies to
defray costs of estate transfer.
insurance policy may best be owned
outside of the estate. While there may be no income
tax, there will probably be estate tax if it is calculated
within the assets to be distributed. I would recommend
talking to an estate tax attorney and/or accountant
rather than an insurance salesman to get current information.
Not another rule, but the following
is still important.
Where you live will have a major impact
on your efforts to gain and protect wealth. Estate
taxes vary widely so where you live can also greatly
effect your legacy. Bureaucrats would love to be able
to use your wealth for their pork projects, you can
act to stop them. Consider re-locating to a
less hostile environment. You can probably
live as well or better, and have more control of your
assets, in a location you select.
planned gifts can take many
forms including cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds,
real estate, art, retirement accounts, or even personal
property. Appreciated assets may be structured to give
you full use, and automatically transfer as a planned
gift in the future. These future donations may yield
current tax benefits, and still give you the comfort
of life long physical control. And there is so much
That was simple enough. Estate
Planning is not a complicated process.
Your selected worthy cause will probably
have pages to print or a download form to help you
define your gifts. Ours is available for you to look
at (and copy) if you click on The
BFU College Contribution Form.
You will be able to pass on
all or most of your estate to those people and ideals
you cherish most - if you plan ahead. Start today writing
that will, work through the rest as you can.
don't plan, someone else will decide what happens
to your life's work. Their estate plan for you
may reflect values opposed to all you hold dear.