Estate Planning

Realizing your legacy

Carpe diem! What a wonderful opportunity you have now to transfer wealth without estate tax.

Federal gift and estate tax generally doesn’t affect households with net worth under $22 million and CA has no estate tax. A bit of planning today can get the money where you want it, avoiding hefty fees, lengthy court delays, or unnecessary income taxation along the way. Larger estates require more planning. Though I am not a lawyer and can’t prepare or review documents from a legal perspective, I do look over documents from a planner’s perspective. Because I am not an attorney, I can review overall estate planning strategies without selling costly time or documentation. I have prepared trust and CRT returns for years, and additionally have studied trust tax at Golden Gate University, where I now teach estate planning.

Let us consider gift tax and gifting strategies, principal residence trusts (QPRTs), life insurance trusts (ILITs), and charitable remainder trusts.

Together, we will answer these questions: How can trusts be used to manage estates or make plans to protect heirs that can’t be thwarted? The estate tax doesn’t yet threaten most of us, but how can families use real estate, muni bonds, annuities, or retirement plans best to reduce income tax and get the most to heirs?

Questions to consider:

  • If you have plans for the hereafter, will they be thwarted by intruding relatives or government?
  • Will your children, grandchildren, and charities receive what you desire?
  • Will there be conflict or confusion at your deathbed or thereafter?
  • Have you picked the right trustees and guardians for children?
  • Do you have all the right documents in place?

Have you considered different types of trusts?

  • living trusts to pass estates without the costs, delays and publicity of court probate
  • to make sure that grandchildren get the education and care they deserve
  • for a special needs child or parent who deserves a trust with a trustee
  • bypass trusts or life insurance trusts
  • a charitable remainder trust or private foundation to save taxes, help beneficiaries and bless charities all at once
  • dynasty trusts to bypass estate and gift taxes over generations

Estates under 11 million in value per person can now escape federal estate tax and CA somehow forgot to tax estates. But with mounting deficits, gift and estate taxes may well return in the future. Strategies are also needed right now to gift and give with as much income tax efficiency as possible.

As we part, ask yourself what legacy you want to leave and appreciate what you did best!

“You have no idea what your legacy will be because your legacy is every life you touch.” –– Maya Angelou