Estate planning is the process of planning for the accumulation, preservation, and distribution of a family's assets. Ultimately, everyone has an estate plan in place. It is up to you, however, to decide whether it is a plan designed by you and your family or designed by the federal government.
When thinking about estate planning, most people think primarily about minimizing the estate tax due and creating the liquidity to pay those taxes in a timely and strategic manner. Perhaps even more important, good estate planning allows the assets to satisfy specific desires even after the original owner of the assets has passed away. These desires often include taking care of children and other family members or giving to important charities. Also accomplished in an estate plan is the protection of assets from unforeseen future risks, such as a lawsuit or the irresponsible lifestyle of an heir.
The L.I.V.E.S. acronym illustrates the five major areas of estate planning:
- Lack of liquidity: Insufficient cash to pay administrative costs, taxes, and other estate settlement expenses
- Improper disposition of assets: When the wrong asset goes at the wrong time to the wrong person in the wrong manner
- Value and values: Proper valuation of assets and strategically reducing or maximizing the value of certain assets. Plans also reflect core family values and encourage their continuation
- Excessive transfer costs: Simple estate planning can often reduce the amount paid in administrative fees and taxes
- Special problems: Planning for the disposal or continuation of a family business, the special needs of a handicapped child, the unique personalities of heirs, and many other situations
We help facilitate the estate planning process. We partner with competent, fairly priced estate-planning attorneys and stand beside our clients through the entire plan. We will make sure the plan is in place, the client understands it, and we have not overlooked any important aspects. Estate planning is often something that is ignored, as if the challenges of planning for an estate will go away if we don't think about them. We make sure our clients' financial plans don't end when their lives end.