Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life and at and after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax.
Planning your estate matters is first and foremost about having a will. But it can also be much more. A well-thought-out estate plan ensures that your family is cared for should something happen to you, and that your money goes where you want it to. It's an important pillar of managing your wealth.
Individual requirements range from drafting a simple will and enduring power of attorney to a complex estate plan that includes an estate freeze. This guide is meant to get you thinking about your situation.
When I first sit down with clients, I start with this question: "What is important to you about planning your estate?"
There are many possible answers. For some people, preserving the family wealth is top of mind. For others, providing for a spouse and children. Transferring the reins of the family business. Minimizing probate fees. Funding educational pursuits for children and grandchildren. Perhaps, leaving a legacy to a charitable cause.
Pay close attention to one caution. Developing your estate plan can be difficult because it requires facing your own mortality. Talking openly about it with family members helps.