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November 17, 2016
Your estate consists of everything you own when you die: personal property, bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, your home, business interests, and the face value of life insurance. If the total of these assets equal to be more than $5,450,000, your executor may have to file an estate tax return and you estate may owe estate tax. But, what if the total of your estate is less than that? Do you even need an estate plan? The answer is, “It depends.”
Beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance controls who gets those assets but what about your other assets? If you die without a will or a trust, state law will determine the distributions of your assets. Many people would not like the state to decide who receives their assets when they pass away. Most people should have a will. However, not everyone needs an estate plan. The decision is a personal one and depends on more than the size of your estate. Other considerations include:
1. Do you have children or other dependents? Do you need to name guardians in case you are not around? How will they be cared for? Do you need to provide for someone with special needs?
2. Is privacy important?
3. If you own a business, have you thought about succession planning?
4. What if you become incapacitated? Who do you want to manage your assets if you cannot do it yourself?
5. Do you want to leave some money to favorite charities?
6. Does the state you live in have an estate tax? What is the exemption limit?
7. Do you have a blended family and wish to make sure your children are treated fairly after you are gone?
Please call us if you wish to explore what estate planning options are right for your situation.