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Estate Planning Checklist

Communicating Your Wishes

  • Do you have a Will?
  • If you have a Will, are you comfortable with the Personal Representative (s) and Trustee (s) you have selected?
  • Does your Will reflect your current wishes?
  • Do you have a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will prepared in the event of catastrophic illness or disability?
  • Have you considered a Revocable Living Trust to avoid probate?
  • If you have a Revocable Living Trust, does if reflect your current wishes and have you titled your assets in the name of the trust?

Protecting Your Family

  • Does your Will name a guardian for your minor children if both you and your spouse are deceased?
  • If this is a second marriage, have you considered creating a QTIP trust or similar trust to ensure assets are passed to your children according to your desires?
  • Are you sure you have the right amount and type of life insurance to provide sufficient survivor income, for loan repayment, capital needs and all estate settlement expenses?
  • Have you considered an irrevocable life insurance trust to exclude the insurance proceeds from being taxed as part of your estate?
  • Have you considered creating trusts for family gift giving?

Reducing Your Taxes

  • If you are married, are you taking full advantage of the marital deduction?
  • Are both your estate plan and your spouseís plan designed to take advantage of each of your applicable exclusion amounts? (i.e. The amount of property that can be passed free of estate tax)
  • Do you and your spouse individually own enough assets for each of you to take full advantage of the applicable exclusion amount?
  • Are you making gifts to family members to take advantage of the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion?
  • Have you gifted assets with a strong probability of future appreciation in order to maximize future estate tax savings?
  • Have you considered charitable trusts that could provide you with both estate and income tax benefits?

Protecting Your Business

  • If you own a business, do you have a management succession plan?
  • Do you have a buy/sell agreement to protect your family business interests?

Protecting Your Assets

  • Is your entity structuring or asset protection strategy, including titling of assets, optimized to offer the highest level of protection?
  • Do you know your planís effectiveness in protecting your assets from potential creditors?
  • Have you determined which protection techniques are suitable given your goals and objectives?
  • If you are concerned about exposure to lawsuits, have you considered offshore protection?
  • Are you protected from liability that can stem from ownership of real estate investment property?
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