You've worked hard to create a secure and comfortable lifestyle for your family and loved ones. A comprehensive plan that includes estate and succession planning can help pursue your future goals. Establishing trusts, regularly reviewing your legal documents and beneficiary designations, and examining tax implications for survivors are vital to establishing a plan that aims to provide you and your loved ones with greater confidence and security. With some forethought, you may be able to manage gift and estate taxes and preserve more of your assets for those you care about.
One of the first steps in the estate planning process is determining how much planning you'll need to undertake. No two situations are alike. And even individuals who don't have a great deal of wealth require some degree of planning. On the flip side, those with substantial assets often require highly complex estate plans.
Two key components of your initial needs evaluation are an estate analysis and a settlement cost analysis:
- The estate analysis includes an in-depth review of your present estate-settlement arrangements. This estate analysis will also disclose potential problems in your present plan and provide facts upon which to base decisions concerning alterations in your estate plan.
- An estate settlement cost analysis summarizes the costs of various estate distribution arrangements. In estimating these costs, the analysis tests the effectiveness of any proposed estate plan arrangement by varying the estate arrangement, the inflation and date of distribution assumptions, as well as specific personal and charitable bequests.