The Team You Need for Your Year-End Financial Checkup
Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney
“As long as you are not dead, you need to do estate planning,” says Lori Anne Douglass, a partner with Moses and Singer L.L.P., specializing in estate planning. While nobody likes to contemplate their end, it will come. Choose to be financially ready. Estate planning isn’t only about transferring generational wealth, it’s about having your final say. Everybody needs a will.
“People don’t often realize how much their assets are worth,” she explains. It’s important to put assets in a trust because you can structure it with stipulations, such as how the money is to be used, or when. By making lifetime gifts, you remove not only the value of the asset gifted, but any subsequent appreciation on the asset, from your taxable estate. If, for example, you have a house currently worth $3 million, “you can make a gift of the house now, and if, upon your death in 20 years, the house is worth $10 million, you have removed that additional $7 million from your taxable estate.”
Douglass cautions, however, that one should never attempt to gift assets without first speaking to a qualified trusts and estates attorney because in addition to estate tax considerations there are gift tax, income tax, and other federal and state transfer tax consequences that must be taken into consideration. The cost of working with an estate attorney will vary depending on your location and estate planning needs. Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate or offer flat fee billing.
–By Karen Thomas