To avoid nasty surprises and take advantage of all the good surprises, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.
- If you don’t choose who will receive your assets when you die, the state of New York chooses for you.
- You can deduct any portion of legal fees associated with tax planning. This is a nice surprise when you’re filling out your 1040.
- You can give away more than $13,000 per year, without incurring any gift taxes.
- In 2011 and 2012, most people can give away all that they have and not pay gift taxes.
- If you don’t appoint a guardian for your minor children in your will, the court will decide who will raise your children if you die. The court may pick someone you don’t like, or the children could be placed into foster care.
- You don’t lose control of your assets when you use a revocable living trust.
- All estate plans are not the same. Each should be customized to the individual doing the planning.
- Estate planning is not a “once and done.” You must update your estate plan every three to five years to ensure it works.
- A will and a trust are both worthless as to asset distribution unless you own your assets properly.
- If you don’t choose someone to administer your estate (i.e. executor), the court decides who will have access to your personal finances and family information. And, it may not be the person you would want.
- A life insurance trust gets the value of life insurance out of your estate so there are no estate taxes.
- You can use trust shares in a revocable living trust to create asset protection for the assets you pass to loved ones when you die.
- You can include your pet in your trust.
- Pets and minors can’t legally inherit. You must set up a trust on their behalf.
Questions about these estate planning surprises? Questions are normal. Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.