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Denise Schoenherr, DBA, Full-Time Faculty Kaplan University
To provide for the financial needs of your family upon your
death, you need to have a plan in place for the distribution of your assets.
This is called estate planning. The objective of estate planning is to ensure
the orderly transfer of as much of your estate as possible to heir and/or
designated beneficiaries. It does not matter how small or large your estate,
you will need to plan for the distribution of its assets.
Estate planning will
ensure that your final wishes are carried out, distribute your assets, and
minimize taxes for your heirs.
If there are minor children it is especially important that
you designate a guardian for them; someone who will raise them in the same
manner as you would. If you pass and have not designated a guardian, the courts
will appoint someone who could be an individual that you would not particularly choose. You do
not want your children to suffer more hardship than they will already
experience upon your death.
If an estate plan is not in place, all your assets will have
to go into probate court. The courts would then decide who gets your assets and,
depending on the size of the estate, the cost to your heirs could be quite
large. Probate costs can be anywhere
between 2 and 5% of the estate value. Since this could take time, your heirs
may have to use their money to cover the cost of closing your estate because of
the delay in the settlement.
federal and state governments have their hands out for their portion of an
estate. Without a proper estate plan and a will, the government could take a
large portion of the assets you built over a lifetime. There are four major
taxes that must be considered: estate taxes, estate and trust federal income
taxes, inheritance taxes, and gift taxes.
federal government levies an estate tax that is assessed in the year of death; there
is no federal inheritance tax. Some states levy death taxes, some states levy
inheritance taxes, and a couple of states levy both death taxes and inheritance
taxes. State inheritance taxes can be anywhere between 0–10%, depending on the state
in which you live, and estate transfer taxes may also apply.
The Seven Steps
in the Estate Planning Process:
Schoenherr is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views
expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent
the view of Kaplan University. Speak
with a professional for any estate planning needs.
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