Estate planning is a method for determining how to distribute your property during your life and at your death. It is the process of developing and implementing a master plan that facilitates the distribution of your property after your death and according to your goals and objectives.
At your death, you leave behind the people that you love and all your worldly goods. Without advance planning, you have no say about who gets what, and more of your property may go to others, like the federal government, instead of your loved ones.
Your goals and objectives are personal, but you can't formulate a successful plan without a clear and precise understanding of what they are. The following are some goals and objectives you might consider:
- Provide financial security for your family
- Ensure that your property is preserved and passed on to your beneficiaries
- Avoid disputes among family members or business owners, or with third parties (such as the IRS)
- Provide for your children's or grandchildren's education
- Provide for your favorite charity
- Maintain control over or ensure the competent management of your property in case of incapacity
- Minimize estate taxes and other costs
- Avoid probate
- Provide adequate liquidity for the settlement of your estate
- Transfer ownership of your business to your beneficiaries (i.e., business succession)