There seems to be a lot of belief that only those with millions and millions of dollars of assets are the ones who need to do estate planning, and have it be complicated so the estate doesn’t have to pay any “death tax,” known as estate taxes, on the assets in the estate.
While estate planning is certainly important for those with significant assets, there is a level of importance for all estates, regardless of size. If you have a paycheck and some basic possessions, a spouse and/or children, then an estate plan would be a good idea.
After all, your estate is your legacy, no matter how modest it is. And if you are not able to use all your assets while you’re living, then why not hand down those assets to family members who could use them and pay them forward, as it were?
The goal of estate planning is not so much to skirt taxes, though that is helpful. The idea is to ensure a smooth transfer of assets to loved ones without the burden of legal issues and courtroom family dramas. An estate that is set up correctly will be stress-free, hassle-free and be a benefit to the family.
If you paid full attention to this article, you would think, “Is estate planning only for the affluent?”, and that you, the average American, would have no need for an estate plan because it’s made for the wealthy so they can avoid paying estate taxes. But estate planning is not a tool just for the wealthy. And in the long run, it is a process that is actually affordable for the average American, when compared to the legal headaches and costs of family members fighting over your assets that would be in dispute had an estate plan not been in place.
The level of taxes the estate pays is a secondary consideration, but one that can be addressed by an experienced financial planner or certified elder-law attorney who knows the ways to create a seamless estate plan while mitigating the tax load on an estate regardless of size or complexity.
Oh sure, an estate can be complex with a lot of different trusts and insurance products to avoid all estate taxes. But what if the estate is hard to execute? Then the plan is self-defeating.
The ultimate goal should be to pass on your legacy as seamlessly as possible, and a certified elder-law attorney can be a big help in walking you through the necessary tools to ensure a proper and harmonious asset transfer through the members of your family. Your life and estate are supposed to be a blessing, not a curse.
So think very hard about your life. Do you have a paycheck? That income is an asset. Do you have a home, or cars, or rental property, or children, or jewelry? This can all be part of your estate. No matter if your net worth in negative due to debts or your net worth is in the millions, if you have any assets whatsoever, you owe it to yourself to create an estate plan with a professional who knows the various legal and financial angles of an estate plan and its various tools so you can protect and properly distribute your legacy to your family, increasing the blessings that you have given to your family throughout your life.