Assess Your Need for Advanced Estate Planning

In my prior Blog post entitled “You Can Do This,” I discussed how we can get past the emotional obstacles that often cause us to procrastinate in addressing our estate planning. This second part assumes that you have now negotiated that obstacle and realize that your estate plan needs to be addressed, and asks the question “Does my situation suggest that more advanced estate plan techniques should be explored?”

Sometimes your estate planning attorney will integrate advanced planning with the foundational estate plan, but it is not uncommon for many people to become so overwhelmed by the initial estate planning process that they can’t even begin to focus on advanced planning. If this happens to you, try and stem the urge to quit and be willing to discuss your need for advanced estate planning to protect your assets, reduce your estate tax bill, meet your charitable goals, and/or create a lasting family legacy.

There is a common misconception that you must be wealthy to need advanced estate planning. This is true is some cases but not in others. While basic estate planning involves creating a plan for what happens if you become mentally disabled and a plan for what happens after you die, advanced estate planning goes beyond these basics in several ways and can include the following additional benefits:

Estate Tax Planning– Finding ways to reduce or even eliminate estate and generation skipping transfer taxes (e.g., net worth in excess of the federal exemption amount, you desire to create an education fund for your children or grandchildren you will be inheriting, or have already inherited, a significant amount of assets, you own a significant amount of life insurance, or your ultimate goal is to create a long term legacy for your children, grandchildren and all future generations).

Asset Protection Planning – If you or your children are engaged in professions or business that may have liability exposure (e.g., physicians and other medical care providers, accountants, attorneys).

Business Succession Planning – What will happen to you and your closely-held business if you become mentally disabled or die.

Planning for Disabled or Problem Beneficiaries – Discussing all of the needs of your beneficiaries and then planning accordingly.

Creating a Family or Charitable Legacy – Working to establish a dynasty trust, one or more charitable trusts, and/or a private charitable foundation.

Unique Assets – You want your primary residence or vacation home to stay in your family for generations to come, you have significant retirement assets in an IRA or 401(k).

The estate planning attorneys at McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A., are uniquely positioned and experienced in addressing all of these concerns. Addressing these matters during your life can be the best legacy you leave to your family.

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