What is Estate Planning
Estate planning is the preparation of tasks that serve to manage an individual’s asset base in the event of their incapacitation or death. The planning includes the bequest of assets to heirs and the settlement of estate taxes. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate law.
BREAKING DOWN Estate Planning
Estate planning involves planning for how an individual’s assets will be preserved, managed, and distributed after death. It also takes into account, the management of an individual’s properties and financial obligations in the event that s/he becomes incapacitated. Assets that could make up an individual’s estate include houses, cars, stocks, paintings, life insurance, pensions, and debt. Individuals have various reasons for planning an estate, such as preserving family wealth, providing for surviving spouse and children, funding children and/or grandchildren’s education, or leaving their legacy behind to a charitable cause.
The most basic step in estate planning involves writing a will. Other major estate planning tasks include:
- Limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries
- Establishing a guardian for living dependents
- Naming an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will
- Creating/updating beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance, IRAs and 401(k)s
- Setting up funeral arrangements
- Establishing annual gifting to qualified charitable and non-profit organizations to reduce the taxable estate
- Setting up a durable power of attorney (POA) to direct other assets and investments