Estate planning is the preparation of tasks that serve to manage an individual's asset base in the event of their incapacitation or death. The planning includes the bequest of assets to heirs and the settlement of estate taxes. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate
BREAKING DOWN Estate Planning
Estate planning involves planning for how an individual’s assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after death. It also takes into account, the management of an individual’s properties and financial obligations in the event that s/he becomes incapacitated. Assets that could make up an individual’s estate include houses, cars, stocks, paintings, life insurance. Individuals have various reasons for planning an estate, such as preserving family wealth, providing for surviving spouse and children, funding children and/or grandchildren’s education, or leaving their legacy behind to a charitable cause. The most basic step in estate planning involves writing a will. Other major estate planning tasks include:
- Limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries
- Establishing a guardian for living dependents
- Naming an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will
- Creating/updating beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance
- Setting up funeral arrangements
- Establishing annual gifting to qualified charitable and non-profit organizations to reduce the taxable estate, Using Life Insurance in Estate Planning
Life insurance serves as a source to pay death taxes, pay expenses, fund business buy-sell agreements, and fund retirement plans. If sufficient insurance proceeds are available and the policies are properly structured, any income tax arising on the deemed dispositions of assets following the death of an individual can be paid without resorting to the sale of his or her assets. Proceeds from life insurance that are received by the beneficiaries upon the death of the insured are generally income tax-free.
Estate planning is an ongoing process and should be started as soon as one has any measurable asset base. As life progresses and goals shift, the estate plan should shift in line with new goals. Lack of adequate estate planning can cause undue financial burdens to loved ones (estate taxes can run higher than 40%), so at the very least a will should be set up even if the taxable estate is not large.Please call us today at (416) 525-3500 to help you guide through the process.