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Plan Your Own Estate: Passing on Your Assets and Your Values Legally and Efficiently

Book Description

Plan Your Own Estate: Passing on Your Assets and Your Values Legally and Efficiently takes a straightforward and engaging "you"-oriented approach to dealing with one of life's certainties--death. While you "can't take it with you," this book empowers you to decide how your assets can best help your family when you are gone. Experienced attorney Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss concentrates into this book the experience she's had helping hundreds of families work through their estate plans. Whether you have modest or extensive assets, Plan Your Own Estate provides the knowledge you need to design your plan and the tools you need to move forward.

The starting place is your goals. Part 1 of the book asks, "What do you want to accomplish for yourself and your family?" The next step depends on you. Are you looking to educate yourself about how a will or trust is structured, or how tax law works? Part 2, Resource Guides, breaks down tough topics like these and delivers actionable information. Have questions about what your estate plan should say? Part 3, Planning Guides, goes through an attorney's analysis in considering the most frequently asked estate planning questions. Thinking about creating your own estate plan, or hiring an attorney? Part 4, Action Guides, helps you start your estate plan and make sure it's complete, or review any plan you may already have in place.

Nobody likes talking about death, taxes, or disability--but not thinking about them will not make them go away. Plan Your Own Estate will help you make a plan, put it in place, and take control of how your money and your values are being passed to your family. This book includes:

  • Comprehensive "plain English" coverage of every aspect of planning your estate

  • Methods to protect your loved ones' inheritance from taxes, immaturity, lack of financial knowledge, incapacity, creditors, and predators

  • Planning guides for families with children, singles, second marriages, business owners, unmarried or same-sex couples, and more

  • Up-to-date information regarding changing laws and best practices

What you'll learn

Through this book, you will be able to:

  • Create an estate plan that meets your goals, clearly communicates your intentions, and reduces the chance of family fighting when you are gone.

  • Gain the insight of an attorney's thought processes, both legal and practical, and how to apply them to your personal situation.

  • Understand the structure of the documents at the heart of estate planning: wills, trusts, power of attorney, health care power, and other transfer devices designed to pass assets to your beneficiaries more easily.

  • Decipher tax laws to incorporate provisions in your estate plan to reduce or eliminate taxes, and deal with a changing tax code.

  • Master complicated legal terms and concepts.

  • Understand the probate process and its alternatives.

Who this book is for

Plan your Own Estate is for anyone who wants to preserve the value of assets and leave them to beneficiaries in the most efficient manner. The book is for married couples with children and grandchildren, singles, unmarried couples, non-citizens, and same-sex couples. It teaches readers how to reduce or eliminate the government as a beneficiary by taking advantage of tax-reduction strategies. No matter your marital status or wealth, Plan your Own Estate empowers you to achieve financial security for loved ones and other beneficiaries.

Table of Contents

  1. Titlepage
  2. Dedication
  3. Contents
  4. About the Author
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Chapter 1: Introduction
    1. Let’s Face Some Facts
    2. You Already Have an Estate Plan—But You May Not Like Its Terms
    3. How the Book Works
    4. Caveats and Disclaimers
  7. Chapter 2: What Are Your Goals?
    1. Who Is Your Family?
    2. What Are Your Responsibilities?
    3. What Is Equal and Fair?
    4. Asset Protection—How Are Assets Given?
    5. What about the Short Term?
    6. What Are Your Values?
  8. Chapter 3: What Are Your Assets?
    1. What’s It All Worth?
    2. How Much Is Yours?
    3. Personal Property
    4. Real Estate
    5. Cash Assets
    6. Investment Assets
    7. Retirement Accounts
    8. Life Insurance
    9. Business Interests
    10. Trusts
    11. Loans Payable to You
    12. Vehicles
    13. Intangible Assets
    14. Digital Assets
    15. Debt: Liabilities and What You Owe
    16. Bottom Line: What’s It All Worth?
  9. Chapter 4: What Goes into a Will?
    1. What Does Your Will Control?
    2. Follow the Flow
    3. How Do Your Beneficiaries Benefit?
    4. Fiduciaries: The People in Charge
    5. Boilerplate: This Is Important Stuff, Folks!
    6. Will Execution
  10. Chapter 5: Will Alternatives and Avoiding Probate
    1. The Probate Process: Transferring Title from You to Them
    2. Probate Avoidance Isn’t a Magic Pill—Taxes and Expenses Must Still Be Paid
    3. Joint Ownership
    4. Pay-on-Death Accounts: An Alternative to Joint Ownership
    5. Name a Beneficiary: You Go, They Get
    6. Revocable Trusts
    7. What Tools to Use
  11. Chapter 6: Trust in Trusts
    1. What Is a Trust?
    2. Trust Triangle
    3. Asset Protection and the Spendthrift
    4. Trusts and Money
    5. Two Trust Types: At Death, During Life
    6. Two Trust Parts: Income and Principal
    7. What Kind of Trust Is Best for You?
  12. Chapter 7: Rounding Out the Plan
    1. Power of Attorney
    2. Living Will or Advance Directive
    3. Health Care Proxy or Medical Power of Attorney
    4. Organ Donation
    5. It’s Your Funeral
  13. Chapter 8: Taxes
    1. Taxes Aren’t Emotional … They Just Are
    2. Why Care About Taxes at Death?
    3. Estate and Inheritance Taxes
    4. Income Tax
    5. Generation-Skipping Taxes
  14. Chapter 9: Gifting
    1. You Give, It’s Gone
    2. Income Tax and the Carryover Basis
    3. Annual Exclusion Amount
    4. Lifetime Exemption Amount
    5. What Assets to Gift?
    6. Gifts Exempt from Gift Tax
    7. How to Make Gifts
    8. Gift Tax Return
  15. Chapter 10: Insurance Trusts
    1. Integrating Insurance into Your Estate Plan
    2. Anatomy of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust
    3. Crummey Notices
    4. Changing Title
    5. ILIT at the End of the Day
  16. Chapter 11: Advanced Tax Strategies
    1. QPRT: Qualified Personal Residence Trust
    2. GRAT: Grantor Retained Annuity Trust
    3. IDGT: Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust
    4. Generation-Skipping Tax Trusts
    5. CRT/CLT: Charitable Trusts
    6. FLP/FLLC: Family Limited Partnership/Family Limited Liability Company
    7. Loans and Installment Sales: Estate Freeze
    8. Mix and Match
  17. Chapter 12: Fiduciaries
    1. Who Is a Fiduciary?
    2. Executor, Administrator, or Personal Representative
    3. Trustee
    4. Guardian
    5. Attorney-in-Fact
    6. Health Care Proxy
  18. Chapter 13: Planning Guide for Kids
    1. There Is No Right or Wrong
    2. 18: The Great Divide
    3. Spectrum of Inheritance Design
    4. Treating Kids Differently
    5. Disinheriting a Child
  19. Chapter 14: Planning Guide for Marrieds
    1. Marital Deduction Math
    2. Grabbing the Marital Deduction
    3. Designing the Skeleton of Your Plan
    4. Dividing Assets to Fund the Trust
    5. Disclaimer: Wait-and-See Approach
    6. Portability
  20. Chapter 15: Planning Guide for Singles
    1. Who Gets Your Assets
    2. How to Give Assets
    3. How to Divide Assets among a Group
    4. Special Tax Issues
    5. Risk of a Will Contest
  21. Chapter 16: Planning Guide for Unmarried and Same-Sex Couples
    1. Disconnect of State and Federal Law
    2. Form of Estate Plan
    3. Tax-Minimization Strategies
    4. Guardian of Minor Children
    5. Funeral Arrangements
  22. Chapter 17: Planning Guide for Second Marriages
    1. Tension Between Children and Spouse
    2. Marital Trust
    3. Other Governing Documents
    4. Retirement Accounts
    5. Is There Enough to Go Around?
  23. Chapter 18: Planning Guide for the Family Business
    1. Liquidating the Business
    2. Insuring the Business’s Estate Value
    3. Operating the Business
    4. Unequal Bequests to Children
    5. Tax Laws Benefiting the Family Business or Land
  24. Chapter 19: Planning Guide for Noncitizens
    1. What Can Go Estate-Tax-Free to a Noncitizen Spouse?
    2. Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT)
    3. Annual and Lifetime Gifts
    4. Tax Treaties
    5. Planning Alternatives
  25. Chapter 20: Planning Guide for Your Parents
    1. Adding to the Tax Burden
    2. Shifting Care Relationship
    3. Obligations
    4. Financing Long-Term Care
    5. Tax Considerations
    6. How to Give Assets to Your Parents
  26. Chapter 21: Planning Guide for Special-Needs Children
    1. Recognizing Special Needs
    2. Special-Needs Trust
    3. Planning Recommendations
  27. Chapter 22: Action Guide: Getting Started
    1. Meet Me in My Office
    2. What to Bring with You
    3. Who Will You Work With?
  28. Chapter 23: Action Guide: Completing Your Plan
    1. Probate Assets: Part of the Plan
    2. Assets Titled to Revocable Trust: Part of the Plan
    3. Non-Probate Assets: Not Part of the Plan
  29. Chapter 24: Action Guide: Reviewing What You Have
    1. Annual Review
    2. In-Depth Review
    3. Location, Location, Location
  30. Appendix A: Estate Analysis Checklist: Married
  31. Appendix B: Estate Analysis Checklist: Single
  32. Appendix C: Financial Worksheet: Married
  33. Appendix D: Financial Worksheet: Single
  34. Glossary
  35. Index