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10 Non-Tax Reasons for Estate Planning

September 17, 2013

People associate estate planning with saving estate taxes, but in reality, very few pay estate taxes.  However, there are many good reasons to plan, and here are ten of them.


  1. Execute a will.  When you do not have a will, your affairs will be settled according to legislative and bureaucratic norms (usually never the full way the deceased would have chosen.)  A will also allows the appointment of people to settle your affairs, and says whether they will be compensated or need to obtain surety bonds.
  2. Planning can provide for charitable bequests, delayed distributions to beneficiaries, different classes of beneficiaries and asset protection for your heirs.  This can be done through a will, trusts or by the way assets are owned and beneficiaries designated.
  3. Probate is the process of settling an estate by proving the will, qualifying the executors, administering the estate, resolving all claims, accumulating and liquefying assets, filing all tax returns, paying taxes and making      distributions to beneficiaries.  In many cases, probate can be minimized by a careful titling of assets.
  4. Choosing a guardian can be easily done in a will, and done with much difficultly, confusion and cost in a Surrogates Court when there is no will.  Choosing a guardian is necessary in the event of an untimely death of both parents of a minor child or children.
  5. Provisions can be made in a will or trust for an allowance or regular stipend to be paid to the guardian, and also to provide for funding for additions to the guardian’s home or to acquire a bigger home if needed for the appropriate care of your children.  Without a will, needless costs will mount up each time the guardian needs additional amounts for the care of the children.
  6. An estate plan can provide for estate liquidity such as making funds available to heirs soon after death, providing for the management and operation of businesses or real estate, providing funds to a guardian or indicating a need for life insurance.  Many times low cost fixed premium 20 and 30 year term life policies can solve potential problems.
  7. Planning enables the synchronization of non-probate assets such as IRA, 401k and 403b accounts, pension plans, annuities and jointly owned accounts or houses with assets individually owned.  It is important to understand      that many assets that people own are not distributed or covered by a will and care needs to be taken to consider the complete distribution of all of a deceased’s assets in accordance with what is desired.
  8. A plan enables the preparation of healthcare proxies, living wills, powers of attorney and provisions for care when incapacitated or disabled.  In many instances determining who “pulls your plug” could be much more important to you than who gets your money.
  9. This is an appropriate time to prepare a letter providing the pertinent information you would want your family to have regarding your affairs, your background, ethical, moral and/or religious values and any other sage advice you want to leave behind.
  10. Planning forces the organization of information and your affairs.  And, a final word is to leave a list somewhere with all your passwords so your family won’t go crazy trying to decipher your email accounts, your computer and cell phone.


Nothing beats being prepared.  As seen from the above, planning is essential – even when there is no taxable estate.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Nagler permalink
    September 17, 2013 11:04 am


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