Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. — Geoffrey Fisher
Question: When is the best time to start or update your personal estate planning and business succession plans?
Answer: Now. “Always” is also an acceptable answer.
One good reason to see to it soon is because only about 10 weeks remain before the December 31st tax deadline. So depending on your needs and the needs of your loved ones, this may be the time to act. Remember, these are the taxes on the quantity and quality of your possessions at the time of your passing. Let’s do a quick refresher and then review some tax issues you may want to discuss with your advisor.
Know Some Key Differences
When it comes to estate planning, it’s important to remember that a will and a trust are not the same thing. A will conveys the instructions on how your property is to be distributed in the event of your passing and who will manage the estate until completion. A will also dictates how taxes are paid. A living will is a legally binding declaration used when you cannot make an informed decision on your own for health care purposes. Scenarios like this could include mental illness or being on life support. A General Power of Attorney does the same for you, but concerns only the financial side of life.
A trust is generally a fiduciary relationship in which you, the grantor or trustor, entrusts assets with another person, the grantee or trustee. The trustee then has the responsibility of holding title of the assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. A trust can also be applied to your business, to make sure it continues to operate without you.
These documents should also be the cornerstone of your business and succession plans. Otherwise, disputes arise and the state gets involved, and that’s typically not what people wish for.
Federal Estate Taxes and Planning Your Legacy
It’s recommended that people see their estate planning advisor every few years — it’s like an oil change for your assets. Following those general guidelines, you may not have seen your advisor since the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (