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Learn... Plan... Protect Your Estate

Steps to Build Plan
  Step 1 - Organize documents
  Step 2 - Get educated
  Step 3 - Inventory
  Step 4 - Determine goals
  Step 5 - Develop plan
  Step 6 - Review plan
  Step 7 - Take action
  Step 8 - Get help
Estate Plan Items
  Death Will
  Power of Attorney
  Health Care Directive
  Living Will
  Charitable Giving
  Asset Distribution
  Burial Instructions
Consider gifting while you are alive

Federal tax law allows every person to give up to $12,000 each year to as many individuals as they wish without having to pay gift tax. This allows couples to give up to $24,000 per year to any person or persons they choose. Used over time, gifting can be a very powerful tool for helping others while also reducing your taxable estate. Below are some tips related to gifting.

  • You can give away cash or other assets, such as stock, heirlooms or even a partial interest, such as $12,000 worth of real estate or a business asset. If you have a choice, you are usually better off giving cash and leaving appreciated assets in your estate.
  • You can make a gift to a trust, but it must be done carefully or the IRS can disallow it. This can be done with a Crummey Trust which allows the recipient to withdraw the gift during a certain window of time, usually 30 days a year.
  • You can't tie any strings to a gift, such as telling them how they have to use it, or the IRS can disallow it.
  • Your gift must be completed. If you are giving property, make sure they get it before you die. The same goes for cash. If you are making a deathbed gift of cash, use a certified check because it will not qualify as a gift if you die before a normal check is cashed.
  • You can delegate to someone else your power to make gifts, if you are careful. The power of attorney must specifically state that they can make gifts on your behalf.
  • You can combine the gift technique with other estate-planning items, such as using a trust to hold a life insurance policy that will benefit the children
  • Don't use the gifts to forgive loan repayments unless you have documented evidence that the transaction truly was a loan with a payment schedule and real interest charged
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