When it comes to the American estate tax regime, Congress created a system that rewards those who plan ahead. Families and individuals who fail to plan their route through the maze of the tax code inevitably end up transferring too much of their money to the government instead of to their loved ones. An effective estate planning attorney helps ensure that your wealth grows in a cost-effective and coordinated manner, while also helping to plan for your compassionate legacy. The earlier you consult an estate planning attorney, the more value you can gain from an estate planning attorney’s “counselor-at-law” guidance.
Advantages of Estate Planning
- Compassion through planning. Estate planning is an act of care and compassion towards the ones you love. That is because you can avoid the messy situations that arise when you don’t provide any guidance by orchestrating the details that really matter. Your silence on crucial details – like who gets the kids if you’re not there – could create confusion and room for interpretation. When family and money collide, problems occur.
- Avoid probate. Probate is the system whereby the state court oversees distribution of your assets. Probate is time consuming, tedious, and potentially expensive. In Virginia, you pay the state to oversee distribution of your assets in the amount of a 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) probate tax. And if you die intestate, you may pay as much as 5% of your assets to a court-appointed fiduciary. Furthermore, probate is a part of the public record, so your last testament is no longer private. Probate can be avoided with a living trust, saving you money and keeping your affairs private.
- Tax planning. The Federal Estate Tax Credit is $5.43 million per individual as of 2015, and is indexed for inflation. If your assets total more than that, tax planning is in order, and there are many strategies we can implement to reduce or eliminate your estate tax liability.
- Planning for incapacity. With the Estate Tax threshold so high, estate planning’s emphasis for the ordinary family has shifted somewhat. Now, it’s very much about planning for incapacity, where you appoint agents to manage your affairs should an accident happen that diminishes or extinguishes your capacity to make legal decisions. I will help you to decide who to appoint and what powers to give your agent so they can smoothly and properly manage your financial and medical affairs in the event of your incapacity.
Speedwell Law will take your circumstances into full consideration in order to best advise you on the route ahead, often involving drafting one or more of the following types of documents:
- Planning for Lifetime Incapacity
- Advanced Medical Directives
- Powers of Attorney
- Basic Estate Planning
- Revocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
- Supplemental Needs Trusts
- Credit Shelter Trusts
- Charitable Lead Trusts
- Charitable Remainder Trusts
- Family Limited Partnerships
- LLCs for Real Estate
- Gifting Strategies