Estate planning creates a master plan for the management of your property during life and the distribution of that property at death. Estate planning involves the smooth transition and distribution of your assets according to your wishes. For most people estate planning will help:
- Give you more control over your assets during your life
- Provide care when you are disabled
- Allow for the transfer of wealth to whom you want, when you want, at the lowest possible cost
Some common estate planning objectives are to transfer wealth, minimize taxes, asset protection, and charitable giving. With proper estate planning, you decide to whom, how and when your assets will be distributed, as well as who will manage your estate or business. Special issues you may deal with are providing financial security for others, planning for children of a previous marriage, equalizing inheritances fairly and retiring from your business. This also involves the management of assets during disability or incapacity.
Beyond the benefits of having a properly drafted will, people are often concerned about protecting what they pass to their heirs. The use of trusts is important if this is your goal.
A major goal of estate planning is to minimize potential taxes without interfering with your other financial goals. If you give away assets during life or at death, you may incur taxes. You can help protect the assets you transfer from excessive depletion by understanding these taxes and the various strategies you can use to minimize them.