Why is estate planning important?
The assets that you have accumulated all your life will be divided into three different categories:
1. What you spend
Ordinarily, the bulk of your lifetime of accumulation will be spent on yourself and, possibly your spouse. Some will certainly be spent on children and grandchildren, if you are so fortunate, but the bulk will be used for your lifestyle. During your lifetime, accessing the funds that you have accumulated using a tax-efficient strategy, can cause more funds to be available to you.
2. What the government takes
Often the government is your largest beneficiary, despite who you have designated as your beneficiaries. Careful tax planning is required — both before and throughout retirement — to keep this share of your assets as small as possible, leaving more for you and your chosen beneficiaries. Probate and the Estate Administration Tax are often responsible for taking more value from your estate than anything else — and more time from your Executor. The more of your estate that you can keep out of Probate, the less will go to the government and the less work your Executor will be required to do.
The government’s share of your assets can be in the form of Income Taxes now as well as both Income Taxes and Estate Administration Taxes when you pass away.
3. What you leave behind
People generally assume that what they wish to happen when they pass away will happen “by default”. This is not necessarily the case which is why an Estate Plan and a valid Last Will & Testament, that incorporates your Estate Plan, is so important. Even an apparently “simple” estate can run into problems without this legal document to guide your family.
How do I change the size of these categories?
If you are like most people, you would prefer to see the government’s share of your assets to be as small as possible, making your share larger — both now and after you pass away. This is absolutely possible and speaking with an experienced Financial Planner who specializes in Estate Planning can significantly reduce your tax obligations throughout the rest of your life — and beyond.
For a no-cost preliminary consultation to determine how much of an impact updating, or formalizing, your current Estate Plan can make, contact me.