proper estate planning

9 Steps for Proper Estate Planning

No matter how large or small your estate, your assets and family should be protected when you die. Creating a proper estate plan is vital for that eventuality. Here are some easy steps you can take to ensure your estate plan is in place and your assets will be protected and passed on appropriately. Plus, you and your family will have peace of mind.

1. Create a Basic Estate Plan

An estate plan should include a will, assignment of powers of attorney, a living will (medical power of attorney), and for some people, a trust might also make sense.

2. Take Inventory of Your Assets

Create a list of your investments, retirement savings, real estate, business interests, insurance policies, and property assets. Figure out which family members and friends you want to inherit each asset.

3. Create a Will

Proper estate planning starts with a will. This document tells your family and friends how you want your assets to be distributed when you die. This is an important document if you have young children because you will name guardians for them here.

4. Determine If You Need a Trust

You may require more than just a will to protect your assets. Trusts allow you to put conditions upon how and when your assets will be distributed. For example, a child might receive maintenance fees until the age of 30, when he or she will inherit the management of the trust.

5. Discuss the Plan

Be sure your heirs understand the estate plan. This may help prevent disputes or confusion later on.

6. Be Aware of Federal Estate Tax Exemptions

In 2020, estates under $11.18 million for singles and $22.36 for couples were exempt from the tax. Amounts above that are taxed up to a top rate of 40%.

7. Tactics

While your proper estate planning may allow you to leave all your assets to your spouse tax free, this may not be your best option. It could mean your children will likely play more when you spouse dies, and in many cases, it just defers the decisions about inheritance and distribution of assets.

8. Tax-free Gifts

Take advantage of tax-free gifts. You may give up to $15,000 a year to an individual (or $30,000 if you’re married and giving the gift with your spouse). You may also pay an unlimited amount of medical and education bills for someone if you pay the expenses directly to the institutions where they were incurred.

9. Charitable giving

A donation or charitable gift fund or community foundation can be created that will invest your funds and allow distributions to various charities each year.

Questions about Proper Estate Planning?

Armed with this information, you know what you need for proper estate planning. However, knowing is different from building the right plan. Don’t go it alone and risk forgetting an important aspect that will leave your family and heirs in a bind. Instead, trust the professionals at Poulos Law Firm. Schedule your appointment now to learn more.

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