ESTATE PLANNING TIPS THAT COUPLES SHOULD CONSIDER
June 6, 2023
Estate planning is an essential process that every couple should undertake to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes after they pass away. It involves creating a comprehensive plan that outlines how your assets will be managed, maintained, and distributed to your beneficiaries.
Here are some tips of estate planning that every couple should consider:
1. Begin by identifying all your assets - both tangible and intangible. These may include your home, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, and personal property. This will help you determine the value of your estate and provide a clear understanding of what you own.
2. Decide on who you want to inherit your assets. This may include your spouse, children, other family members, or even charities. Be sure to communicate your wishes with your beneficiaries so there is no confusion when it comes time to distribute your assets.
3. Determine which estate planning tools would be most beneficial for your family. You can create a will, which is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after you pass away. It also names an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate. Establishing a trust can help you avoid probate and potentially reduce estate taxes. Trusts can also provide additional protection for your assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes. Review your estate planning documents periodically to make sure it still reflects your current wishes.
4. Be sure you are utilizing one of the estate planning benefits of planning as a couple, which is that under U.S. Federal Estate and Gift Tax laws, a person may transfer an unrestricted amount of assets to their spouse at any time, including at their death, tax-free (assuming they are a U.S. citizen). All other transfers are subject to the following gifting limits:
• An annual gifting limit of $17,000 per recipient; and
• The lifetime federal gift tax exclusion for U.S. citizens of $12.92 million per recipient.
However, for married couples, any assets left to a U.S. citizen spouse is entitled to the unlimited marital deduction.
Another tax benefit is that the surviving U.S. citizen spouse may also elect portability of their deceased spouse’s unused federal estate and gift exclusion amount for their benefit. This can be a critical tax-saving device where the surviving spouse has an estate value that exceeds the federal exclusion amount.
5. Another estate planning benefit of planning as a couple is that a spouse beneficiary may roll over or transfer an inherited IRA from their deceased spouse into their own IRA for their benefit and use. However, non-spouse beneficiaries may not have this option.
6. Lastly, consider tax implications. Estate planning can have significant tax implications, so it's important to consult with a qualified professional to understand the impact of your decisions. This may include working with an accountant or financial advisor, as well as an estate planning attorney.
In conclusion, estate planning is an important process for every couple to consider. By identifying your assets, deciding on beneficiaries, determine the best tools for your family, utilize the many benefits of planning as a couple, and considering tax implications, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. Start the conversation with your partner today to avoid future conflicts and protect your legacy.
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