Estate Planning

Many believe estate planning is a term and situation reserved for those who have amassed amazing amounts of wealth over their lifetime. The reality is very different than these assumptions and it changes daily on the federal, state and possibly on a local level. Each of these governing bodies plays a role in your estate and the impact that estate taxes may have on your heirs. 

The estate planning strategy you embark on today will determine how significant the government's role in your ultimate distribution of assets will be. The financial strategies you apply will directly impact how and to whom your wealth and assets are transferred. Unfortunately estate planning missteps far outweigh success stories be it Elvis Presley who died without an estate plan and whose estate was worth over $10 million dollars when he passed, after probate he left his family with little over $2 million dollars. Another surprising story occurred with the Wrigley family of chewing gum fame. The family was forced to sell Wrigley Field simply to cover probate costs on the family's estate. There are numerous lesser known cases of unnecessary estate taxation and harvesting which have occurred in communities across the country, possibly even in your own community. 

All these occurrences serve as living examples, because each impacts not one, but multiple lives and generations. Your estate and the planning you pursue around it is a living legacy to those whom you love and support during your lifetime. It is in this context that we construct and implement comprehensive estate plans in concert with a qualified attorney of your choice. There are viable planning solutions to almost all the challenges that estate law and taxes present for most individuals. We pursue a comprehensive approach that combines current circumstance and transfer intention into an integrated estate plan that can function alongside all other aspects of your financial situation. Our systematic, written approach leaves a living record of your intentions for your family and advisory team to share and affect. Our underlying objective is to keep as much of your estate value as possible in the hands of those you choose.

Our work will help you identify and define...

  • Analyze present estate distribution plan.  Determine the effectiveness of your present plan and recommend changes as needed.  Coordinate with your business succession plan.
  • Illustrate alternatives that would help reduce or eliminate estate taxes.
  • Discuss asset management assistance needs for your family and illustrate how management flexibility can be made available to your family.
  • Discuss methods to minimize estate taxes int he future through use of estate freeze and reduction techniques.
  • Illustrate the economics of the several options available to pay estate taxes.
  • Illustrate options to equalize asset distribution among children.
  • Establish procedures to help reduce administrative costs of estate settlement.
  • Explore planned charitable and non-charitable giving techniques as methods of estate conservation and distribution.
  • Discuss coordination of annual exclusion andunifed credit gifting programs.
  • Review existing life insurance contracts.  Focus on ownership and beneficiary designation of contracts.  evaluate the cost/benefit relationship of your existing contracts.  Determine whether contracts will avoid estate taxation.
  • Evaluate the sources of income for your surviors to help assure that adequate income is available.