Steps to Estate Preservation

The following outline references some of the planning techniques that you should consider, as appropriate, with respect to your estate planning.

This outline includes some of the more commonly utilized techniques and does not incorporate all available planning strategies and techniques. It is intended to be a reference to assist you in determining if you have properly addressed your estate planning needs.

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Each individual circumstance may require utilization of other techniques. In every instance you should be sure to consult a qualified advisor such as a certified estate planning attorney to assist with the evaluation of your planning goals, alternatives and the implementation of your planning.

BASIC (FUNDAMENTAL) PLANNING TECHNIQUES

  1. Establish a Living Will with Health Care Power of Attorney.
  2. Establish a Durable Power of Attorney for legal, business and financial decisions.
  3. Establish both a Revocable (Living) Trust and a pourover Will. To avoid probate, for privacy and as otherwise appropriate, transfer ownership of property to your Revocable Trust.
  4. Execute proper Beneficiary Designations on life insurance policies and for annuities.
  5. Coordinate your basic estate planning with your IRA and qualified retirement plans (e.g., 401(k), Pension, Profit Sharing, Savings, etc.). Execute proper Beneficiary Designations on all IRAs and for all qualified retirement plans in which you have an account or other interest.
  6. If married, be sure you and your spouse each use your separate $1,500,000 federal estate tax exemption amounts. (These increase to $2,000,000 in 2006 and $3,500,000 in 2009. Note that the estate tax is scheduled for repeal in 2010 and in 2011 it is reinstated with $1,000,000 exemption for each person). Note that many states (Such as Tennessee, which currently has “only” an $850,000 per person exemption for inheritance tax purposes) have estate or inheritance taxes that employ differing exemption amounts. Become familiar with possible strategic uses of these tax exemptions. Review your existing planning in light of the new rules and uncertainties involved in the future.
  7. If married and spouses have separate children from prior marriages, make sure your planning properly addresses your “blended family” circumstance.
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