It is the holiday season and an excellent time to call an estate planning attorney. You have worked hard your entire life to amass your property, wealth, and investments. For most people this requires planning, diligence, and a strategy for how to save and invest properly. Planning for how to preserve your earnings after death is no different. You need to plan ahead to ensure that funds are allocated correctly and that your estate is not hit with a heavy tax bill.
One of the things you can do now is gift some of your estate. Whether you have significant property holdings and millions in the bank or you have a comfortable retirement and stocks, gifting to your decedents is a good way to ensure that money goes where you want it to and that your children or grandchildren can enjoy the benefits of your hard work today. For example, you could give money to your grandkids for college and help them to receive a solid education, rather than waiting to give them inheritance years down the road. Your gift now can positively impact their entire future. The same is true with your children. Perhaps you want to gift them money so they can start a new business or make a strategic investment. This is all within your right to do and it can be quite enjoyable to become an active part of their future. However, you should make sure that your gifting strategy will also benefit your estate from a tax perspective.
As an estate planning attorney, I can help you to determine how much money you should gift today and every year. The IRS rules do change so this is a strategy that can be initiated now but will need to be reviewed on a regular basis. For example, the annual exclusion for gifts in 2013 to 2016 is $14,000. In 2005, it was only $11,000. My job is to stay up to date on the changes and inform you of them so that you can adjust your annual gifts up or down as is necessary.
Gifting can be an important part of your strategy, but it should not be your only strategy. An estate plan should be comprehensive and include directions on what you want to do with all of the property you own (homes, investment property, cars, etc.), your personal property, cash, and investments. As an estate planning attorney, I often recommend moving property into a trust because it takes your property out of the probate process. It works because the trust is an entity like a business or a person. Once it is established, you can change the title of your property so that it becomes owned by the trust that you control. You still have access to everything within the trust as the trustee. However, when you pass away, there is no need for probate because the trust can simply be managed by someone else that you designate or you can have instructions for how the trust should be liquidated. To discuss this or a comprehensive gifting strategy, call and schedule a consultation.