Estate Planning is Not Dead (And Neither Are You)

With the rumors again swirling about the demise of the federal estate tax, should you delay your visit with an estate lawyer?

No, no, and no.

There are a lot more reasons to do an estate plan than just for tax avoidance. Here are just a few.

Planning for disability and incompetency. Who is going to have the power to make your medical and financial decisions if you are unable to do so? You need to have a plan and have the legal documents in place to make sure it can be implemented. Failure to do so will land you in the twilight zone of guardianship.

Business succession planning. Without an estate tax to blame, if your business fails after your death then that one is on you. It is critical for your family, your employees and your customers that you have a business plan for your disability or death.

Asset protection planning. With a little forethought, you can protect more from creditors than your homestead, car, and backyard full of chickens. Irrevocable trusts, LLCs, limited partnerships – there are a lot of options.

Planning for disposition of your assets upon your death. The basic document is a will, but that is just the beginning. You need to consider titling and beneficiary designations on your accounts, a transfer on death deed for your real estate, a funded buy-sell agreement for business interests, and maybe a trust.

Retirement planning. Think positive and anticipate that you will have a long life. Now how are you going to pay for it?

Charitable giving. The federal estate tax may go away, but the income tax will live forever. A plan that implements charitable giving through a lifetime charitable remainder trust or other vehicle may be just what you need to solve a tax problem.

Planning for spendthrift children. “Spendthrift” is such a confusing term, but it basically means making sure the money goes to your children and not to their creditors.

Planning that takes care of your children, period. Special Need Trusts for children with disabilities, irrevocable trusts for children until they reach an age of maturity, naming guardians for minor children…let’s not procrastinate and leave this one up to the courts.

Handling real estate located in a state other than Texas. You have to face up to all of the bad things that come with stepping across the Texas border: convoluted probate procedures, state income taxes, state estate tax, incomprehensible spousal rights, and asset protection issues. You can handle most of them successfully with a little planning.

Planning for marital dissolution. Yes, this means divorce. If it doesn’t apply to you, congratulations. If it does apply to you, then you need to plan, pronto.

Reviewing your current documents in light of changes. The law has changed. Your family has changed. Your agents have changed. Shoot, you may have even changed. An outdated estate plan is sometimes worse than not having one at all.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

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