Highlights of Estate Planning Goals and Objectives
When most people think about estate planning, the first issue that pops into their mind is taxation. After all, you don’t want to work your entire life and amass a small fortune, only to see the federal and state tax authorities come in and carve out half of that for themselves, rather than it going to your children and grandchildren.
The truth is, in today’s environment, estate tax is of little concern for most people — especially here in Tennessee, which imposes no tax on estates or on inheritances. The federal estate tax threshold is so high that none but the richest estates will owe taxes. To put numbers to it, if your estate is approaching the neighborhood of $11 million for an individual, tax may become a concern. .
But besides taxes, there are many good reasons for planning your estate. Every individual has different concerns with regards to their assets, business interests and care for their loved ones after they are gone. An estate plan is best thought of as a toolkit to address each of these concerns.
The chief reason for an estate plan is to direct the management and distribution of your assets after death. This is usually done by executing a will, but you can also transfer property by creating a living trust or by placing assets in joint ownership so that they go to the survivor if one owner dies.
Another common concern addressed by an estate plan is care for children should tragedy befall both their parents. Who will have guardianship? Will there be sufficient financial assets to care for the children? Are the parents’ wishes regarding the rearing of their children sufficiently spelled out?
All of these common issues can be addressed by a living trust. It can hold your assets and spell out your wishes with regards to child care, financial planning and even care for your pets should you die or become incapacitated.
A related issue is caring for relatives with limited abilities — those who cannot manage their finances and may need help with their living arrangements, diet, and healthcare. A special needs trust can assure the provision of such assistance.
An estate plan can also give directions for end-of-life care for yourself, including the provision or withholding of life-sustaining measures, and other sensitive issues that you do not want to leave up to chance. A medical power of attorney, living will or other form of Advance Directive for Health Care can fill in the gaps.
In the Chattanooga area, estate planning attorney Valerie W. Epstein uses these tools and others to draft tailor-made plans for you and your family’s needs. Call 423-265-5100 or contact us online. We provide free consultations and are available days, nights, weekends and holidays.