Estate Planning With Your Family in Mind

Are there any specific estate planning techniques that will make it easier to keep my money in the family?

The purpose of estate planning is to ensure that your assets go to the people of your choice after you die. It is not surprising that many people want to leave their money to family members.  It is so common that intestacy statutes across the country make this presumption. If you are seeking to keep your money in the family, the best thing you can do is create a comprehensive estate plan.

Components of a Well-Drafted Plan.

Although intestacy laws (the laws that would govern your estate should you die without a will) presume that most people want to leave their assets to members of their family, these laws are not always specific enough to accomplish a person’s goals. These laws designate beneficiaries based on their degree of relation to you and this might not be how you would like your estate to be distributed. Therefore, it is imperative to create a Will. This allows you to be as specific as you would like in your bequests.

A Will is a great way to make arrangements as to how your assets will be distributed, but, beneficiary designations and certain retirement and other financial accounts also make it easy to name who you would like the money in these accounts to go to. In such cases, the money is passed to the intended recipient without the need for probate (the process of validating a Will), which will save your heirs time and money. You should check your designations and keep them up to date. Most attorneys recommend reviewing them after each major life event, such as marriage, death or childbirth.

If you are striving to keep as much money as you can in the family, you should strongly consider establishing a Trust. By transferring assets into a trust you can shield them from certain taxes.  This allows you to leave more to your family in the long run. These estate planning tools also offer a great deal of flexibility in how assets will be managed during your lifetime and how your assets will be distributed after your death.

Another technique that allows you to ensure that your family members get your money is simply to gift it to them while you are alive. You are legally allowed to give any one person up to $14,000 a year ($28,000 if your spouse joins in the gift).  This can allow you to spend down your estate so you do not pay taxes and also allows you to see how your money is being spent.

If you are considering estate planning, you need an experienced estate planning attorney by your side.  

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