Estate Planning

  • Estate Planning

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    Estate planning is about much more than just about creating a Will (your wishes) and considering your eventual transfer of assets. It is a key part of the financial planning process to help maintain and protect your wealth and health decisions in any and all circumstances that arise expected and unexpected.

    If you become incapacitated or you die without a valid, executed Will (known as dying “intestate”), your loved ones will be facing a process that’s difficult, at best, to navigate. When this happens, there’s no legal document to determine how your health care decisions, estate and assets should be administered. Keep in mind that even if you have a Will, it will still go through probate.

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    What goes into a legacy plan? Besides estate planning basics, it can include an ethical will, in which you explain your beliefs and give life lessons to your heirs. It can provide instructions for the preservation of family history documents and even your “digital” assets and social media accounts. It may integrate a family business succession plan, an education fund, or a foundation to gift charities and other nonprofit groups.

    In the end, your legacy is about how you want to be remembered by your heirs, your colleagues, and your community. It concerns the positive effect your wealth can have on future generations and the world.

    Many people we meet with have either not completed their will and estate plan or have not updated their plan in 10+ years. With the possibility to end up sick and incapacitated in a hospital due to COVID-19 or other unforeseen events, there is no better time than the present to complete or update any parts of your will, trust or critical estate planning documents including medical and financial directives (medical and durable Powers of Attorney, Living will) for yourself and loved ones under your care or supervision.

    Let’s start a conversation today!  Call us at (561) 210-7887 or contact us (on the form below) to set up your no- obligation estate and financial planning consultation. We can work with your financial team (attorney, CPA) to help review, coordinate and implement your estate planning recommendations. 

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    We work with our clients and their legal team to review:

    • Will and estate planning techniques
    • Account ownership & beneficiary designation review
    • Developing a tax-appropriate and ongoing portfolio income distribution strategy.
    • Advanced estate planning techniques including trusts (asset transfer, legacy planning)
    • Probate and estate settlement cost analysis
    • Guardianship instructions for minors or incapacitated adults in your care.
    • Benefits of the estate and gift tax unified credits along with gifting strategies.
    • Advantages and disadvantages of using a marital trust arrangement
    • Probate expenses and probate expense reduction techniques
    • Planning for future estate tax liquidity for business owners (will assets need to be sold?)
    • Health care and long-term care planning issues
    • Asset Protection strategies for families and business owners 

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    10 commonly over-looked obstacles of effective Estate Planning include:

    1 Failure to plan (no will or outdated Will along with basic legal docs)
    2 Not having a valid, executed Will in accordance with your state laws
    3 Outdated plan (family additions or subtractions) (tax law changes)
    4 Over-looked provisions if applicable: (guardianship) (simultaneous death provisions)
    5 Improper tax planning (estate tax exposure)
    6 Improper ownership of assets (or not updating beneficiary designations)
    7 Failure to plan for disability, illness or long term care needs
    8 Failure to consider inflation (future estate tax exposure)
    9 Lack of liquidity (in instances of estate tax liability, will assets need to be sold?)
    10 Psychological factors (dealing w/ mortality) (procrastination.)

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    Consider the following circumstances and facts:

    • Your legacy transcends money, while also encompassing your goals and values for future generations.
    • Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
    • Powers of attorney, living wills and HIPPA release forms should be set up for health and financial directives.
    • The beneficiary designations on investment and insurance accounts can set precedence over your will and court of law.
    • How your assets, investment, and insurance accounts are titled and held can set precedence over your will and a court of law.
    • Trusts may not protect your assets from creditors but can help to transfer assets while reducing probate and estate tax issues.
    • Advanced trust and estate planning may be applicable when dealing with minors, spendthrift adults or for special needs planning.
    • Insurance and annuity accounts could protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors in the state of Florida.
    • If you die without a will,  you will be considered “intestate,” whereas the courts will decide on the fate of your estate, health decisions and loved ones under your care.
    • A will does not help you to avoid probate. Probate is the first step in the process of administering your estate under your will while providing public notice, resolving all claims and distributing your property.
    • Different states have different estate tax exemption amounts which supersede Federal exemption amounts. (See below)

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    Note on calculating your gross estate

    For people with significant wealth over-and-above the current estate tax exemption amount ($11.7M per person or $23.4M per couple) and have neglected to put applicable trust and advanced estate planning techniques in place, their largest beneficiary may end up being Uncle Sam with an estate tax rate up to 40% on assets over the excluded amount. The exemption is set to drop back to $5 million per person with inflation adjustments in 2026.

    Estate planning could include maximizing the annual gift tax exemption rule. In 2021, the annual gift tax exclusion amount is $15K per person. This means that if you’re married, you and your spouse can gift up to $30K to each of your children each year without increasing your estate tax exposure. Also, start working with your financial team to help minimize your estate tax liability for 2026 and beyond. 

    Note: Your gross estate includes (IRC sec 2031) includes: The value of all property, real or personal, tangible or intangible of an individual on date of death to the extent of his or her interest in the property plus applicable life insurance proceeds. There are items sometimes not included in the actual deceased will or estate plan or even overlooked, such as outstanding claims from a lawsuit.

    • Have anything that is attached to you on this list including insurance policies.
    • Have the beneficiary information on this list
    • Note ownership of each asset (trust, single, joint, estate, business, etc.)

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    17 States With Estate or Inheritance Taxes

    Many states have their own estate tax laws or inheritance tax laws that may be applicable to individuals and families who are exempt from Federal Estate tax regulations.  Consider that where you claim your primary residence in the United States can directly affect your estate taxation.  

    Eleven states have only an estate tax: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Washington, D.C. does, as well. Estate taxes are levied on the value of a decedent’s assets after debts have been paid. Maine, for example, levies no tax the first $5.8 million of an estate and taxes amounts above that at a rate of 8 percent to a maximum 12 percent.

    Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have only an inheritance tax — that is, a tax on what you receive as the beneficiary of an estate. Kentucky, for example, taxes inheritances at up to 16 percent. Spouses and certain other heirs are typically excluded by states from paying inheritance taxes.

    *Connecticut: Estate tax of 10.8 percent to 12 percent on estates above $7.1 million
    *District of Columbia: Estate tax of 11.2 percent to 16 percent on estates above $4 million
    *Hawaii: Estate tax of 10 percent to 20 percent on estates above $5.5 million
    *Illinois: Estate tax of 0.8 percent to 16 percent on estates above $4 million
    *Iowa: Inheritance tax of up to 15 percent
    *Kentucky: Inheritance tax of up to 16 percent
    *Maine: Estate tax of 8 percent to 12 percent on estates above $5.8 million
    *Maryland: Estate tax of 0.8 percent to 16 percent on estates above $5 million; inheritance tax of up to 10 percent
    *Massachusetts: 0.8 percent to 16 percent on estates above $1 million
    *Minnesota: 13 percent to 16 percent on estates above $3 million
    *Nebraska: Inheritance tax of up to 18 percent
    *New Jersey: Inheritance tax of up to 16 percent
    *New York: Estate tax of 3.06 percent to 16 percent for estates above $5.9 million
    *Oregon: Estate tax of 10 percent to 16 percent on estates above $1 million
    *Pennsylvania: Inheritance tax of up to 15 percent
    *Rhode Island: Estate tax of 0.8 percent to 16 percent on estates above $1.6 million
    *Vermont: Estate tax of 16 percent on estates above $5 million
    *Washington: Estate tax of 10 percent to 20 percent on estates above $2.2 million

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    Note: Please consult your tax and/or legal advisor before implementing any tax and/or legal related strategies. IFP and Ulin & Co do not provide tax and/or legal advice.

Ready to take the next step? Contact us to get started today!