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STRATEGIC TAX LAWYERS:  TAX BLOG

Begin to Plan Your Estate

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Don’t let your children fight over your estate after you’re gone or worse yet, lose it all to the costs of probate court because no one could agree on how things should be handled.  Take control of your assets now to preserve them for future heirs.  Plan your estate ahead of time with the help of a qualified estate attorney.

An estate attorney can walk you through the process and help you make decisions and put those decisions in writing that will allow the courts to see your intentions.  While you can find places that offer do-it-yourself estate planning, it is better to work with a professional to help you allocate your estate.

Get Your Assets Together

Make a list of all of your assets before you go to see an attorney.  They will rely on the information you provide to create your estate plan.  Include all bank accounts, retirement plans, real estate and other property owned, artwork, and anything else of value.

One reason it is important to have all of this information is that it can make a difference if you have a taxed estate or one that is not taxed.  Since many people believe that the estate tax relief may be amended in 2013, it is important to know which category you fall into. Your estate attorney will handle your estate differently depending on this information.

If You Are Taxable

You have the option of transferring your assets that put you over the non-taxable limit to your heirs ahead of time.  Since estates are taxed at a high rate, this can save you money and leave more for your children or heirs.  The transfer can be a complicated process and should be handled with a qualified estate attorney assisting you.

You also want to carefully consider anything and everything you own in your list of assets.  If you happen to forget to include something and it is discovered after the probate is closed on an estate, a second probate will need to be opened.  This can be quite a hassle that can be prevented with careful inventory.

It is easy to put off this process, but planning your estate ahead of time is a wonderful gift you can leave for your loved ones after you are gone.  They will have plenty to deal with emotionally with your passing, do not add to it by leaving them to figure out what to do with your assets.

If you need to contact an estate attorney to begin the process of creating an estate plan, call Strategic Tax Lawyers.  They are experienced in the area of estate tax law and can help you make the right decisions based on the value of your estate.  They also stay updated on changes in estate taxes to help you make the most of what you own.

Don’t wait too long; possible changes are coming in January that could cost you more.  Contact your estate attorney today for help in planning your estate.

Helpful IRS References

Visit IRS.gov to learn guidelines related to estate tax information.  There are multiple ways to contact the IRS.  Look up relevant IRS forms and publications, or visit the Department of Labor for employment tax information.  Google is a handy reference when searching local estate tax laws.  Check out the Beverly Hills Bar Association.