We often refer to comprehensive estate planning in terms of realizing overall retirement, financial and legacy goals. Estate planning is ultimately about who will eventually control and or receive your property. It is about ensuring that your wishes actually happen in the future. Through our experiences meeting with clients and drafting various estate plans, we noticed a pattern of some very common estate planning goals. To help you understand what you will achieve through comprehensive estate planning, let's take a look at some of these common goals.
Providing for Loved Ones
One of the most common goals is to provide for loved ones by leaving behind both tangible assets and an intangible legacy. This can be complicated depending on the types of assets owned and the structure of the family. Owning assets such as small businesses can be considerably more involved in determining how that small business will continue then simply owning more straightforward assets such as bank accounts and stocks. Also, some families include former spouses, children from another marriage, minor children, estranged children or non-biological family members. Ensuring that each beneficiary receives his or her intended inheritance requires careful planning and properly worded estate planning documents.
The next most common goal includes protecting assets – whether it is a family home, family business or some type of unique collection. Lawsuits, divorces and certain creditors can negatively impact the size of your estate. How assets are held and titled and even who receives them after your death can expose the assets to creditors and others. Proper planning can help to protect these assets and limit the liability. There are many planning tools such as trusts and the use of business entities to segregate assets. These strategies can help shield and protect these assets.
Part of protecting assets also include minimizing taxes and administration costs. Taking advantage of federal exemptions for the estate and gift tax is a popular strategy to reduce or eliminate some tax concerns. Preventing assets from being mismanaged after death involves appointing a trustworthy and dependable executor and/or trustee. For business owners, having a solid business succession plan in place is key for the survival of the business.
The probate process can be expensive, time-consuming and open to public searches and scrutiny. Some clients want to maintain a level of privacy and approach estate planning with privacy as a main goal. Others want to avoid probate to mitigate the hassle for their heirs, prevent family disputes and save administration costs. There are ways to implement estate planning tools that will accomplish all of these goals.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. Everyone with assets can benefit from proper planning. Whether you want to provide for loved ones, leave a legacy, protect a business or maintain your family’s privacy, the estate planning attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area can help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can schedule an appointment with Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area by calling us at (443) 470-3599or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.