Estate planning

Estate planning is the set of actions a person can take in order to maximize his residual assets for heirs. These actions include the following:

  • Create a trust account for each beneficiary
  • Create a will
  • Designate a guardian if the beneficiaries are minors
  • Designate an executor to administer the estate
  • Designate beneficiaries for all retirement plans
  • Gift funds each year to reduce the amount of the residual estate
  • Make provisions to protect funds for those beneficiaries who might be irresponsible with the money they receive
  • Selectively use life insurance to provide additional benefits to beneficiaries

A person should engage in estate planning whenever there is a reasonable asset base that might be subject to estate taxes. Otherwise, the assets may be significantly reduced, cutting into the amount that beneficiaries will inherit. Estate planning is also needed to ensure that assets are directed in accordance with one’s wishes if those wishes differ from the probate laws of the state in which a person lives.