The Mascia Law Firm ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes not the state's.
Estate Planning Basics
When you hear the phrase "estate planning," the first thought that comes to mind may be taxes. But estate planning is about more than just reducing taxes. It's about ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. That's why, even with the estate tax reduction (and eventual repeal in 2010) under the 2001 tax act, estate planning is still critical. In addition, estate taxes still pose a threat with respect to wealth available to transfer to the next generation. Remember, the "sunset" provision means that in 2011 the estate tax will return to where it stood before the 2001 tax act, unless Congress takes further action to change the law.
In addition, the act includes other provisions that increase the complexity of estate planning, such as repeal of the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax (in 2010, with reinstatement in 2011); reduction in the top gift tax rate but no repeal of the gift tax; increases in GST and estate tax exemptions; and repeal of the step-up in income tax basis at death.
As a result, estate planning is more important than ever - without proper planning, estate taxes may still claim a large share of what you've spent a lifetime building.
Will Or Living Trust?
You have two basic choices for transferring your assets on your death: the will, which is the standard method, and the living trust, which is rapidly growing in popularity. If you die without either a will or a living trust, state law controls the disposition of your property. And settling your estate likely will be more troublesome - and more costly.
The primary difference between a will and a living trust is that assets placed in your living trust avoid probate at your death. Neither the will nor the living trust document, in and of itself, reduces estate taxes - though both can be drafted to do this. Whether a will or a living trust is better for you depends on many personal factors.
Who Should Draw Up Your Will Or Living Trust?
A lawyer! Don't try to do it yourself. Estate law is much too complicated. You should seek competent legal advice before finalizing your estate plan. While you may want to use your financial advisor to formulate your estate plan, wills and trusts are legal documents. Only an attorney who specializes in estate matters should draft them.