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.
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.
1 Failure to plan (no will or outdated Will along with basic legal docs)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3 Outdated plan (family additions or subtractions) (tax law changes)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.)
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.
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
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.