Estate tax planning is a very important part of protecting your wealth and assets for future generations.
A comprehensive estate plan will do everything legally possible to maximize the amount of assets are left behind in your estate. The estate tax is a type of “death tax”, whereby taxes are imposed at the federal level on the right to transfer or receive property at the property owner’s death. This tax is assessed on everything you own or have interest at the time of your death.
A major part of estate tax planning is taking proactive steps to reduce the taxes that your beneficiaries will have to pay upon execution of your estate and disposal of your assets after your death. This includes setting up strategies to minimize the amount of money that the government takes in the forms of estate taxes, inheritance taxes and taxes on life insurance payouts.
One of the things that we will do is help you decide the best strategy for choosing your beneficiaries. Each situation is different, and we will work with you to determine what is right for you. For example, while you may leave an unlimited amount of money to your spouse without taxes, it may not be the best option for reducing the final tax burden on your estate because it doesn’t take advantage of the legal estate tax exemptions. By increasing your spouse’s estate, without another plan in place it means your children are likely to pay more in estate taxes if your spouse leaves them the money when he or she dies.
Based upon your financial situation, we may also be able to help you to reduce the taxes that you need to pay as you grow older — leaving more for your estate. Some possible strategies could include things such as:
- Utilizing exemptions for financial gifts while you are alive. You can give gifts “tax free” (at the time of this writing, up to $14,000 a year to an individual) thus reducing the amount of your estate, and with it, the amount of taxes due.
- Helping with medical bills or education fees. You can also legally pay for medical expenses and education bills if the money is given directly to the institutions from which they were incurred.
- Planning for retirement. We can provide sound legal advice with regard to things such as when to take social security, early retirement, normal retirement or perhaps even whether it would be better to delay retirement.
While these things are not directly “estate tax planning,” in the end it will have an effect on the taxes that come out of your estate.
Haas & Zaltz, LLP will work with you to devise a plan to best protect your assets and to legally put a plan in place that will limit what that the government takes from your estate.