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Why Plan Your Estate?

Give Today, Not Tomorrow

Can You Give TOO Much

Be Sure You Set Up a Living Trust

Consider Estate Taxes

Talk With Your Family

Providing a better lifestyle for your family...

That fundamental need is what drives us to take time, energy and money to develop an estate plan in the first place. If we didn't want to take care of loved ones after we're gone, no one would bother completing an estate plan.

We usually like to illustrate some simple ways you can begin to plan for an estate and provide for your loved ones, while you're alive to do something about it. Before going into the advanced strategies listed on the right, implement these simple tips today..

Give Today, Not Tomorrow

One of the easiest ways to provide for loved ones is by making annual gifts. Gifting today not only reduces your estate (and your possible estate tax liability), but also allows you to share in the joy a gift can bring.

Each and every U.S. citizen can give away up to $13,000 per person each year. A husband and wife together can give $26,000 to any child, grandchild... or anyone else they feel like. For instance, if a couple has two children and 8 grandchildren, they can gift a total $260,000 (10 beneficiaries x $26,000) per year, completely free of gift and inheritance taxes.

With the passage of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Congress began raising the original $10,000 limit to account for inflation. However, as politicians often do, they put some restrictions on the increases. Congress stipulated that the annual gifting limit would rise with inflation, rounded down to the nearest thousand. For 2012, the annual gifting limit remains at $13,000.

Can You Give Too Much?

What happens if you gift too much (i.e., over the $13,000 "annual gift exclusion")? The beneficiary will have to pay taxes on the amount over $13,000. These taxes can rise as high as 46%, and closely mirror estate tax rates.

An alternative is to have the amount over $13,000 apply towards your Estate Tax Credit. Everyone is given this credit by the IRS, and it is usually used for calculating estate taxes. Currently, the Estate Tax Credit shelters $5.12 million of your estate from taxes.

If you give a daughter $50,000 (and you could only gift up to $13,000), then the remaining $37,000 could be subtracted from your Estate Tax Credit. Your Estate Tax Credit will be reduced to $5,083,000 but your daughter will not be taxed on the gift.

Another concern when gifting is that you give away too much of your estate, not to trigger a tax, but to maintain your lifestyle. Many people automatically gift, andend up giving too much of their assets to loved ones. Gifting should always be part of an overall estate plan that takes into account your current needs.

Remember, before you write that annual gift check, make sure you double-check with your estate advisor.

Be Sure You Set Up a Living Trust

At the very least, no matter how much you want to give your family, consider setting up a Living Trust. Living Trusts allow you to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and faciliate the transferring of assets. Living Trusts also help married couple's maximize both of their Unified Credits.

Living Trusts are simple to create, usually costing anywhere from $500-$2,500 (depending on the complexity of the estate). A practicing estate attorney can help you draft one, or review yours if you already have one. Contact for all the details.

Consider Estate Taxes

Many people do not consider estate taxes when setting up an estate plan. Estate tax rates, like gift taxes, can climb as high as 46%. Effectively funding a trust with tax-advantaged vehicles, like municipal bonds and cash-rich life insurance, can help reduce taxes even more.

Talk With Your Family

The best thing you can do to provide for your family is talk with them about what you want to accomplish. Do you want all of your grandchildren to go through college? How do you do you want your property divided? How should your money be used?

The more you communicate your goals and objectives with trusted family members, the greater chances your estate will be divided up exactly the way you want.



Read More About Advanced
Estate Planning Strategies

Providing for your loved ones should be a top priority. And, these tips only scratch the surface when it comes to estate planning. Take some time to learn about other advanced estate planning strategies that might be more appropriate.

To order any Special Report, simply contact Your request is confidential, and the information will be sent right away.







Why Plan Your Estate?
Introduction to Wills
Living Trusts
The Perils of Probate
Durable and Medical Power of Attorney
Taxes, taxes, taxes!
Creating a Second Estate
Dynasty Trusts
The Legacy Trust
Family Limited Partnerships (FLiPs)
Charitable Trusts
Building on a Solid Foundation
Funding Your Estate Plan
Choosing a Qualified Attorney
How You Can Plan for Your Own Estate











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