April 30, 2008
Special to Elegant Island Living
Making out a will is not one of life’s more pleasant tasks. For one thing, it forces us to recognize the fact that we are mortal creatures with a finite lifespan. But when the time comes to plan for the future flow of your assets to family or friends, it makes sense to entrust the task to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
If you don’t prepare a will, or a document comparable to a will, you will lose complete control over where your assets go. Without a will, the disposition of your assets is governed by the laws of the state ofGeorgia. Also, if the value of family assets exceeds $2 million, a family can expect to pay a penalty in estate taxes that approaches half of the total assets in excess of the estate tax credit of $2 million.
A reputable attorney can make the right provisions simply by using the power of attorney, health care directives and, often, revocable trusts, which provide you with a repository for your assets during your lifetime. Every financial situation is unique in terms of accumulated assets and family dynamics. An attorney and estate-planning specialist will bring a deep knowledge of the law, attention to detail and the ability to include all of the provisions that should be included in a simple, straightforward will.
There are certain basic steps an estate-planning specialist will follow in preparing a will. First, an attorney will prepare an estate plan, which involves reviewing assts and discussing financial priorities. Using that information, an estate planner can prepare a will or a will and a trust to provide for your surviving spouse and then for your family so the assets remain within your family and estate taxes are minimized.
In addition to the basic steps, if your estate would still incur an estate tax following the death of the surviving spouse or if you aren’t married, then estate attorneys have sophisticated planning tools to further minimize taxes.
When it comes to wills, remember the three basics: Be sure your assets go where you want them to, provide for basic tax planning to shelter at least $4 million from estate tax, and conduct more sophisticated planning to further minimize taxes.
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