Estate Planning Tips
Tax Policy

Proper Estate Planning

Proper planning for your estate often takes the skill of a well-informed team, including financial experts (your CPA and wealth manager). 

Proper planning for your estate often takes the skill of a well-informed team, including financial experts (your CPA and wealth manager), an estate planning attorney, any doctors to discuss medical issues, and your family.  Many of the documents that need to be drawn up to help protect your health and your assets (including your will, health care directives, and any trusts) will be taken care of by the attorney present on your team.

It is important that all team members are on the same page, or it will make progress more difficult.  Plans often unravel when team members (generally various family members) have different goals in mind for the planning and execution of an estate.

Health

One of the first steps to proper estate planning is to plan for expected and unexpected health issues.  There might be a history of heart issues, cancer, or other serious illnesses in the family.  However, there are also often unexpected injuries that can occur and throw your plan off track.

This is where your estate planning attorney should confidently suggest drafting a health care directive (often called a living will) that will discuss all aspects of your wishes in the case of a serious illness or injury.  Many clients refrain from discussing this important issue because they are young or feel that they are invincible.

Keep in mind that serious car accidents happen on a daily basis, so it is important to be well prepared for the unexpected.  Proper planning will allow for you and your family to be at ease if any emergencies are present.

Financial

Your financial well-being should also be considered when drafting your proper estate plan.  First off, drafting a will is of the utmost importance.  A will is a legal document that will properly distribute your assets among your heirs.  This will assist your family in avoiding lengthy (and costly) probate issues where the courts can tie up your assets for years after your passing.

An attorney and CPA can also discuss the creation of trusts, which may or may not allow you access to your assets during your life.  These trusts often have tax and financial benefits, as your assets might be legally out of your name for purposes of planning for Medicaid and other issues.   This might also allow you to reduce the value of your estate for tax purposes.

Lastly, it is important for your wealth manager to join the conversation to discuss the current assets that they manage as well as discussing the proper use of life insurance to help pay down debt and possible tax liabilities.

Understanding Grant of Probate

A grant of probate pertains to a court document that confirms that the executors on the will or testament are the individuals entitled to manage the estate. This way, banks, other financial companies, and the land registry know that they’re dealing with the right person. 

The executor or administrator of the will is responsible for identifying the debts and assets or properties, and ensuring their proper distribution. A grant of probate allows an executor to gain access to the deceased person’s estate assets to carry out the wishes indicated on the will.

You can rely on an estate planning lawyer on the trusts commonly found in wills and in obtaining grant of probate. An estate planning attorney can help minimize the estate’s inheritance tax, which is usually miscalculated. 

The probate services that estate planning lawyers offer include the following:

  • Value and sell relevant assets
  • Do the necessary steps to reduce inheritance tax 
  • Make arrangements to reduce the family’s care fees in the future
  • Serve as an independent third-party or mediator in family disputes
  • Report to the executors about the progress 
  • Fast track the application for fast release of funds
  • Avoid the costly expenses that lay executors usually fall into when acting without professional help

You may check out sites like willpowergroup.com to learn more about probate services.

Summary

Estate planning done properly can often be very taxing (pun intended) on all parties involved.  It is important to have an expert team in place that can properly guide your family through all of the steps of a proper plan.  These might include health care directives, a will to properly leave any estates to heirs, and tax planning for larger estates (that is where the CPA will come in) while still respecting the goals of all family members involved.  Although the process can be long and difficult, it can be rewarding if done properly.

Jeremias Ramos is a CPA working at a nationally recognized full-service accounting, tax, and consulting firm with offices conveniently located throughout the Northeast. Jeremias specializes in tax and business consulting with focus areas in real estate, professional service providers, medical practitioners, and eCommerce businesses.

2 comments on “Proper Estate Planning

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