Estate planning is an end-of-life action that ensures one's wealth is transferred efficiently to heirs and beneficiaries. When done appropriately, it enables them to extend their financial legacies beyond their lifetimes.
Every person can have an estate planning strategy regardless of their financial status. The idea may be popular among the rich but not limited to them. Anyone should be able to care for their loved ones even in their absence. Having a good estate plan is a good step toward that end.
Selecting People to Carry out Plan
Just as executors to a will, a person needs to select the person who will help them implement their estate plan.
This responsibility includes the following:
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney appoints a person to take financial decisions on behalf of another should they lose the ability to make them on their own.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
People in this role make medical decisions for others who are temporarily or permanently indisposed.
This can be the same person with the durable power of attorney or a different individual.
If a person passes away, the guardian is given parental authority over their children to care for them.
The parent should discuss these roles with appointees to verify that they accept the responsibility and will act accordingly when the time is right.
Both parties should document the agreement, sign it, and notarize it.
Other Estate Planning Strategies
A beneficiary is selected to inherit a person's property when they die. Benefactors should do this when they are establishing the property or account.
It requires more than word of mouth to execute the individual's wishes in their absence. This should be a document that is reviewed frequently with events such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death.
Estate Planning Strategies to Consider
Start Managing Wealth
An estate plan is for a person to manage their assets towards a set goal.
Regular discussions about retirement, old age care, and death help people assess their objectives and adjust current lifestyles as they pursue them.
Several wealth management tools exist that help people keep track of their investments in this regard.
Pensions and Aged Care Investment
Workers nearing retirement need to plan their transition. This is why pensions are often a large part of a person’s estate plan.
Using a Transition to Retirement (TTR) pension can evaluate a person's tax requirements.
Aged care fees keep increasing. They cover accommodation, daily care, feeding, and many others. Individuals should structure their investments so that they pay for these costs.
These plans should not leave benefactors at the mercy of beneficiaries if they are indisposed.
Conservative asset allocation is often used when investing to address risk. These types of portfolios are often a part of an estate plan.
Minimize Estate Taxes with Gifts
Estate taxes exist even after a person dies. One way to address this nuisance is to give away money while they are alive.
In the United States, gift tax exclusion permits individuals to gift $17,000 to a person annually for the tax year 2023. Spouses can give each other that amount yearly to help minimize taxes on their estate plans.
It is not essential to pay taxes on gifts that are more than the annual permitted amount. One only has to file a federal gift tax return that affects their lifetime estate exemption limit. Giving $34,000 to one person within a year lowers it by $17,000.
The calculation uses the excess after taking out the annual tax exclusion for gifts.
Other avenues allow people to give money to loved ones while avoiding gift tax.
Paying tuition directly to a school is one of them. Clearing someone’s medical expenses is another way to enjoy this exemption.
People may want to reduce these "death taxes" as much as possible on the assets they leave their heirs.
Set up a Trust
Establishing a trust fund is another way for people to hand over wealth to their beneficiaries without burdening them with taxes.
An irrevocable trust prevents the benefactor from altering any detail without permission from the heir.
Assets put into this are no longer considered part of a person’s estate. As such, they are not subject to estate tax.
Sponsors can also put assets into an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT). This collects the benefits of a person’s life insurance and pays it to their beneficiaries when they pass.
They are free of income tax; hence, transferring them into the trust also exempts them from estate taxes.
Contributing to a charitable remainder trust makes a person eligible for partial tax deductions. They can get income from this type of trust while they are alive.
When the term for the trust has ended, the remaining assets get shared among multiple charities or non-profit organizations the sponsor specifies.
Have a Business Succession Plan
When it comes to business owners, planning how to exit a business can be critical to its survival. It involves outlining successors, addressing risks, and financial procedures during and after the transition.
The process also clarifies legal issues concerning the owner’s assets and the role of family members in the business.
Draw up a Will
People should regularly update their will to reflect the changes in their financial portfolios over time.
A benefactor's wishes should be unambiguous so that beneficiaries don’t have to go through probate. This can be a waste of time and effort since the probability of the court overruling the content is very little.
United States laws are rigid with situations involving a person's will.
Estate planning strategies may seem simple until the time for execution. There are processes such as trust establishments and many others that require accuracy to prevent headaches.
Experienced attorneys and financial advisors can play a role in helping individuals communicate their desires well for implementation. Plans change, and it will be easier for these professionals to adjust plans accordingly.
The Kelley Financial Group team is committed to helping everyday people move towards financial freedom. People who want to know more about leaving a good financial legacy through their estate plans can reach out.
This material was prepared for The Kelley Financial Group’s use.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.
The Kelley Financial Group and LPL Financial do not offer tax or legal advice or services. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.