What are your priorities? This is the first question we ask when sitting down to discuss estate planning services with you. If we know and understand you and your family’s priorities, we can develop a game plan from there. If you can’t pinpoint the driving forces behind what you’re doing, it becomes somewhat difficult to create a custom estate plan. Some advisors may throw out different tax-advantaged estate planning strategies. These are great, but ultimately void if you haven’t identified the things most important to you.
Here are a few examples of ways we’ve helped clients implement estate planning strategies around their priorities. You may be able to relate to one or a few of them.
“I want to be sure my special needs child is cared for after I’m gone.”
If you have a child with special needs, a special needs trust may be of benefit to you. This is something we have experience helping clients establish. A special needs trust is an estate planning tool that allows your child to qualify for federal benefits without spending the assets you have gifted to them. If your child were to inherit money outright, they would have to spend the money down before qualifying for federal aid, unless a special needs trust is set up to protect the assets ahead of time. This type of estate planning service allows parents of special needs children to approach your finances with a sense of confidence, knowing that your child will be taken care of even when you are gone.
“I need some retirement income for myself and my family, but I also want to leave something to charity.”
Many top-level executives I work with are charitably inclined. This is certainly a factor when discussing estate planning strategies. We’ve worked with many clients who want to give charitably, but also require a portion of their assets for retirement income. These situations are best suited for use of a charitable remainder trust.
A charitable remainder trust allows you to generate income while you’re alive. When you pass away, the remainder of the assets in the trust are donated to a charitable organization or organizations of your choice. To establish your charitable remainder trust, we help you leverage assets that have appreciated over multiple years. This type of estate planning tool also offers some tax benefits, including reducing your income tax while you’re alive and, ultimately, helping your family reduce or avoid estate tax when you pass away.
“I want to ensure I leave plenty for my children.”
I’ve met many top-level executives who have been frugal their entire life. So when they get to retirement, they don’t really know how to spend their money. In addition, many are concerned about leaving plenty of money to their children, so the thought of spending any of the money they’ve saved leaves them feeling worried that they won’t have enough to pass on.
If you fall into this category, a good solution may be to establish a life insurance trust that can help ensure money is left to your children. This can alleviate the anxiety of not leaving enough behind for your heirs. It also offers some tax benefits to your heirs. This tool is an effective way to earmark funds for estate planning while freeing up capital for retirement income or spending.