When it comes to estate planning, what's not done is often the biggest mistake made. Whether your assets are large or small, you are married or single, a citizens or non-citizen, or are with or without children, having an estate plan can help you:
- Minimize estate taxes and court costs
- Transfer assets to the beneficiaries of your choice
- Make provisions for the appointment of a guardian for your minor children
Without proper planning, your heirs may end up with far less than you intended. An important element to consider in estate planning is what factors could decrease the size of your estate. At death, estate taxes, as well as any outstanding debts and other expenses you may have can contribute to estate shrinkage. An estate plan can help ensure that you have enough available cash to cover these costs so your heirs won't need to liquidate assets to pay them. An estate plan can also help ensure that property, personal items and assets are divided according to your wishes. Strategies to help achieve this include utilizing wills, trusts, and establishing charitable giving programs.
Developing a well-designed approach for your estate is a personal and complex process, grounded in the attitudes, beliefs, and traditions that you consider important. Ultimately, the legacy you leave will depend on the plan you prepare; with the help of an experienced professional, you can protect your heirs for many years to come.