Estate planning can be a powerful part of a financial strategy to ensure the smooth transfer of assets to the next generation while helping with tax planning, as explained in a recent article, “Maximizing wealth: The power of strategic estate planning in tax savings” from Thomasville Times-Enterprise.
Estate planning generally involves arranging assets and personal affairs to facilitate an efficient transfer to beneficiaries. However, there’s a tax angle to consider. Estates are subject to various taxes, including estate, inheritance and capital gains taxes. Without a good estate plan, taxes can take a big bite out of any inheritance.
Using tax-free thresholds and deductions effectively is one way to save on taxes. Depending upon your jurisdiction, there may be a state estate tax exemption in addition to the federal estate tax exemption. By strategically distributing assets to beneficiaries or using trusts, individuals can keep the value of their estate below these thresholds, leading to reduced or eliminated estate taxes.
Equally important is planning to take advantage of allowable deductions, further decreasing the tax burden facing heirs.
Trusts are valuable tools for estate and tax planning. They offer a legal framework to hold and manage assets to benefit individuals or organizations and provide asset protection and tax advantages. A revocable living trust transfers assets seamlessly to beneficiaries without passing through probate. Irrevocable trusts shield assets from estate taxes while allowing the person who created the trust—the grantor—to direct their distribution when the trust is established.
Strategic gifting during one’s lifetime is another way wealth is transferred. Using the annual gift tax exclusion, you may gift a certain amount per person yearly without triggering gift taxes. This allows for the gradual transfer of assets, reducing the taxable estate while helping loved ones. Gifting appreciated assets can result in significant capital gains tax savings for both the person making the gift and the recipient.
Estate planning is necessary for business owners to protect a family business from being stripped of capital because of hefty estate taxes. Different ownership structures, including a Family Limited Partnership (FLP) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) can facilitate the smooth transition of the business to the next generation, while using valuation discounts to reduce estate tax liabilities further.
Given the complexity of estate and tax laws, working with an experienced estate planning attorney, accountant, and financial advisor is essential to ensure that all aspects of an estate plan meet legal requirements. Every situation and every family is different, so the estate plan needs to be designed to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family.
If you need help understanding estate and tax planning or if you are going through a probate case, we are always happy to help. Our Los Angeles probate attorneys can guide you through California's probate process.
If you have any probate questions, schedule a free appointment with us through our online appointment page.
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Reference: Thomasville Times-Enterprise (Sep. 3, 2023) “Maximizing wealth: The power of strategic estate planning in tax savings”
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