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What is Estate Planning?

An Estate plan is a set of instructions that clearly spells out how property and assets should be managed during life and then how it should be distributed upon the estate owner’s death.

An estate plan should include:

  1. During life, arranging assets to help estate owners in a tax-efficient manner to meet their financial objectives

  2. At death, how assets will be distributed, and survivors’ needs be provided for

Avoiding large estate tax bills is only one item on a long list of benefits. Estate planning is important for anyone who needs to provide for loved ones or wants the opportunity to decide how their assets will be distributed after death.

Benefits of an Estate Plan

A carefully implemented estate plan can:

  • Create and conserve assets during life

  • Minimize estate taxes and estate settlement costs

  • Ensure cash is available to pay unavoidable taxes and costs

  • Provide for an orderly distribution of assets that meets the estate owner’s objectives and intentions

  • Protect a business and ensure its successful transfer

  • Provide peace of mind and family harmony

In addition to the obvious benefits, an estate plan can:

  • Avoid conflict. How assets are passed to family members or other heirs can be complex. Clear documentation of an estate owner’s decisions concerning the distribution of assets can help avoid conflicts by minimizing the sting of unfulfilled expectations while ensuring that plans steer clear of unintended consequences.

  • Expedite settlement. By providing executors and administrators with a blueprint of wishes, an estate owner can considerably reduce the time required for estate settlement.

  • Shrink expenses. Written directives ensure efficient estate transfer, which can minimize expenses, conserve estate assets, and provide for an orderly distribution of the estate.

  • Realize philanthropic goals. Comprehensive estate planning allows for the fulfillment of charitable intentions if estate owners choose to distribute assets to personally meaningful organizations or institutions.

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