Do you have your 3 Ps in order?
- Wealth transfer is the third biggest concern for successful families, behind only wealth preservation and tax mitigation.
- There are three important estate planning concepts to know all starting with the letter P: Processes, People and Property.
- Without a will, you’re considered to have died “intestate.” Half of your assets automatically go to your spouse and the other half to your children.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about families ripped apart after an elder dies–the money struggles, the lawsuits, the horrendous probate processes with endless fees, charges and paperwork. None of us want that, but there are huge numbers of people who still don’t have an estate plan in place. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a will when you pass away, it’s called dying “intestate.” In Illinois, like in many other states, the government says 50 percent of your assets will go to your spouse and the other 50 percent to your children. That may not be exactly how you wanted to divide things up, but without a will, there’s nothing you or your family can do to change it.
The Three Ps
There are three important estate planning concepts to know all starting with the letter P: Processes People and Property.
1. Process. Estate planning is a process that forces you to sit down and really think through things that are most important to you about your heirs, your loved ones and how your estate is going to be divided.
2. People. Who is going to be the executor of the will? Who is the trustee, the beneficiary or the agent for your powers of attorney for healthcare and property?
3. Property. What kind of property do you own? Is it owned individually or jointly? Do you have it in a trust, an IRA or a qualified retirement plan? Is it an insurance policy or annuity? Each of these structures has a different way of dealing with ownership of your property assets when you pass away.
Another issue is that people put estate plans in place and then don’t bother to fund them. It’s extremely important to fund those plans. You must put them in the name of the trust or make sure the beneficiaries are designated properly and follow your true intentions. Right now, federal estate tax laws allow you to shield $5.34 million of your assets from taxes–about $10.68 million for a couple. If you have less than $10.7 million, it might not be a problem for you, but now there are new portability issues. In states like Illinois, there’s an inheritance tax set at the $4 million level–$8 million per couple. You really have to make sure your assets are named appropriately so you can use up these two $4 million exemptions.
Estate planning is too complex to do without first consulting an estate planning attorney or other financial professional. If you need help thinking through this, we’ re happy to assist you.
It’s no surprise that wealth transfer is the third biggest concern for successful families, behind only wealth preservation and tax mitigation. That’s why we’re offering our seminar Taking Charge of Your Wealth: For Those Who Are Retired or About to Retire twice next month–June 10th and June 16th. Go to our event page for more information.
Until next time, enjoy. Gary
We value your comments and opinions, but due to regulatory restrictions, we cannot accept comments directly onto our blog. We welcome your comments via e-mail and look forward to hearing from you.