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Sound estate planning is about far more than tax avoidance

Some people think that asset management and protection is all about tax avoidance, and that they might have less need to consult with a proven estate planning and administration attorney than in previous years owing to a new federal estate tax regime.

That would be a mistake, says Investing Daily columnist Bob Carlson, who notes that there are myriad and critically important decisions to make about wealth preservation and distribution that have very little or nothing to do with taxes.

In fact, says Carlson, the recent federal adjustments on federal estate taxes and exemptions for individuals and families in Texas and nationally actually point out the need for most people to take a hard look at their finances and planning needs. For parties who think they will now not be subject to federal taxes on their estates, the present is a good time for them to focus "on the non-tax issues of estate planning."

Again, those are many, with Carlson noting that some issues predominate for most estates and “should be considered in your estate plan regardless of the value of your estate.” Those issues include these and additional matters:

  • The drafting of a will to set forth who will inherit wealth, and when
  • The potential relevance and integrated fit of various trust vehicles in an estate plan
  • Candid discussion with counsel that addresses changed circumstances in the future and ways to provide for them
  • State taxes, which Carlson notes can also cause a “potential leak out of your estate”
  • Life insurance determinations, especially concerning the proper amount and beneficiaries
  • Gift giving and estate plans that might concern charitable causes
  • Provisions concerning IRAs, pensions and other savings vehicles

The bottom line is that prudent estate planning looks closely at and tailors relevant outcomes for both a wide universe of tax-related considerations and matters that are quite distinct from tax concerns.

An estate attorney with deep experience and strong client empathy can provide further information.

Source: Investing Daily, "The new focus of estate planning," Bob Carlson, Aug. 23, 2013

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