Estate planning creates a master plan for the management of your property during life and the distribution of that property at death.
For most people, estate planning will:
- 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
Common estate planning issues addressed in the wealth management process include:
- The transfer of wealth
- The minimization of transfer taxes
- Asset protection
- Charitable giving
Wealth transfer planning involves the smooth transition and distribution of wealth according to your wishes. 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. Wealth transfer planning also involves the management of assets during disability or incapacity.
A major goal of estate planning is to minimize potential taxes without interfering with your other financial goals. If you give away wealth, during life or at death, you may incur federal—and possibly state—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.
If you own substantial assets, creditor protection can be a concern. Creditors can come in many forms. An asset protection plan first identifies potential exposure and then identifies preventive tools and strategies to reduce exposure. Asset protection planning deals with ownership issues, liability insurance, statutory protections, special needs trusts, offshore and domestic trusts, prenuptial agreements, divorce, and business dissolutions.