Page 28 - Network Magazine Winter 2019
P. 28

       Effective Estate Planning:
A New Era
Truth be told, effective estate planning for individuals is not all about the Will, and in current times, rarely has been.
The variety of personal and business assets owned by individuals, advancements in medical science resulting in longer lives, the ease of global travel and ownership of multiple homes, and noteworthy changes in tax law, require greater attention to detail and more careful plan- ning by the attorney and the client in the estate planning process.
An attentive and experienced estate planning attorney will rely on financial and other information provided by you in drafting appropriate estate planning documents for the client. At a minimum, these documents should include a Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Advance Directive/Living Will. They might also include one or more desired trusts or other strategic tax planning or wealth transfer documents. Everyone who seeks an estate plan that carries out his or her wishes and minimizes tax should focus on the follow- ing considerations.
2. Complete and accurate financial and other infor- mation provided by you is the basis for your Estate Planning Attorney’s advice and documents. An experienced Estate Planning Attorney will typically ask you to complete a comprehensive financial and personal questionnaire prior to your meeting and will carefully review your completed document with you. Your information is both critical to the tax and legal advice rendered and forms the basis for the advice and estate planning and other documents that follow.
3. View your Estate Planning Attorney, Accountant, and Financial Advisor as a team. Certain issues arising in the estate planning process warrant com- munication and analysis among your trusted advisors.
4. Pay careful attention to the beneficiary designa- tions you have in place for your Qualified Retire- ment Plans, IRAs, and Annuities. A common misconception in estate planning is that qualified retirement plans, IRAs, and annuities are governed by one’s Will, rather than by one’s signed beneficiary des- ignation form filed with the account custodian. There is no substitute for your scrupulous recordkeeping and careful tax and legal analysis with your Attorney when planning for tax-qualified retirement plans and IRAs.
5. Similarly, pay careful attention to understand- ing and updating the ownership and beneficiary designations of your Life Insurance policies. Un- derstand the tax and other consequences of such planning. Careful planning can prevent unintended tax or other consequences.
Income Tax Planning is the new Estate Planning.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCAJA) effective this year includes not only a historic increase of the Federal Estate and Gift Tax exemption to $11.18 million per person in 2018 but also notable changes to the income treatment of certain business and personal income and limitations on the availability of long- standing deductions. These changes warrant careful consideration of current and projected income tax planning opportunities in the course of planning for one’s estate.

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