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Circle of Financial Health >> Protect >> Estate Plans & Trusts

Estate Plans & Trusts

What is an Estate Plan?
It is a written document outlining instructions for the disposition and administration or one's property before or after death, and may include a will, trusts, gifts, power of attorney, etc. Your estate can be as simple as the $10 bill in your wallet or it can mean assets, property and more.

A popular estate planning tool is a Living Trust also referred to as Family Trust. Most people use it to reduce estate taxes, to avoid costly and time consuming probate and to protect themselves in case they became incapacitated.

Not everybody needs a Living Trust. If you are young married couples without children and little assets, you probably won't need one – perhaps a simple Will is sufficient for you. Generally speaking, the greater your assets, especially if you own Real Estate, the greater your need for a Living Trust. But these things should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by an expert who has an overall understanding of the financial landscape. This is what we do when we take an Estate Planning case.

Trusts are legal documents and should to be prepared by Attorneys. If you have one, we are welcome to work with him or her: if not, we can refer you to Estate Planning Attorneys with whom we have worked in the past and know to be excellent in their field of expertise.

Another basic rule for good estate planning in case of married couples is to make sure that both of their estate exemptions are used. Frequently the first exemption is lost because couples own most of their properties jointly and simply leave all their property, including their retirement accounts to each other estate tax free.Since there was no taxable event, the exemption is lost upon the death of the first spouse and once it is lost, it cannot be claimed later. The loss could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars -- the tax on a $3 million estate was $920,000 in 2006. (Ed Slott: "Instant IRA Success")