Advanced Estate Planning
Making the Complex Understandable
Advanced Estate Planning
With the ever changing legal and tax environment it can be difficult to know when advanced estate planning is needed. It is common to think that only the very wealthy need advanced estate planning, but that is not correct. There are many reasons, other than great wealth, that might require advanced planning.
Estate Taxes and Other Tax Issues
Knowing if and when the estate tax may apply to your estate can be more complicated than you think. With the growing value of your estate (either by investment or simple inflation) and the constant political pressure to reduce the estate tax exemption amount, it can be like trying to shoot a ball rolling down hill, while you are running up hill. The question is not if the estate tax applies today, but rather, will it ever apply before you die? To plan for your family’s future, it is important to work with a financial advisor who can make projections of your estate’s future values. With these projections, we can advise you how to protect your estate in the future. With the risk of a 40% tax on your estate, you can never be too careful.
You must consider other tax issues, even if your estate is not subject to the estate tax. Improper planning, or the failure to plan, can cause complications with property taxes and capital gains taxes for your future heirs.
Advance Estate Planning – Non-Tax Issues
Even if your estate is not subject to the estate tax, there are other non-tax related issues that may require advanced estate planning:
Special Needs Planning
If a child or grandchild has special needs, due to physical or mental disabilities, special planning is required. It is needed both to protect the individual and their possible government benefits. In these cases, an inheritance can be more of a burden than a benefit if not handled properly. Because this type of planning is for the lifetime of the individual, it can be more complicated than traditional planning. Improper planning can force an individual to give up their inheritance or risk losing a lifetime of government benefits and health insurance. The obligations for the trustees are also much greater, as it may be a lifetime appointment.
Family Cottages and Cabins
For those fortunate enough to have a family cottage or hunting cabin, or even just vacant land for camping, the memories can be priceless. However, it is tricky passing the property to the next generation in a way that is fair and reduces the chance of family disputes. Issues related to gift tax, property tax, divorce, ownership liability, and other unforeseen circumstances, make putting everyone’s name on the deed a very bad idea. We can help. There are special planning techniques that can reduce all of these risks and ensure fairness for all involved.
Family Farms and Businesses
It’s not uncommon for a family farm or business to grow enough to cause estate tax problems in the future. However, even in cases of smaller businesses without estate tax issues, there can be other complex planning issues. There is a reason why over 75% of family farms and businesses don’t make it to the third generation. It is the failure to plan. Issues can arise regarding: (i) fairness to beneficiaries not receiving the family business, (ii) licensing and permit transfers, (iii) death, divorce and disability of owners if there will be more than one, (iv) capital gains taxes, (v) liability insurance, and (vi) problems unwinding the transfer if the beneficiary receiving the farm or business dies before you.
LifeFocus Planning® is here to help with all of your advanced estate planning needs. Click HERE to set up a free consultation.