Estate Planning – Getting Your Affairs in Order 

1.  Last Wills and Testaments (Wills) -

a. Cornerstone document for tax planning and selection of beneficiaries -

b. Augmented with powers of attorney and directives to physicians –

c. Can use Wills and Trusts in tandem to achieve multigenerational transfers –

d. Simple Wills are adequate for most estates.

2.  Trusts -

a. Two types –

(1) Inter vivos are set up during a person’s life.

(a) Revocable (Living) can be changed.

(i) Limited tax savings –

(ii) Assets must be retitled.

(iii) Safety requires a pour-over Will.


(b) Irrevocable rarely can be changed.

(i) Good tax savings available –

(ii) Need recanting to change -

(2) Testamentary are set out in a decedent’s Will.

b. All involve a grantor (settlor), trustee(s), and beneficiary(ies).

c. Income and estate tax implications -

3.  Retirement planning other than Wills and Trusts -

a. IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s -

b. Life insurance -

c. Annuities –

d. Social Security benefits –

e. Brokerage accounts –

f. Jointly owned property

4.  What happens with little or no estate planning

a. State law makes a Will for you.

b. Large estates forfeit taxes to the IRS

c. You cannot purposely shape your legacy.

d. Avoiding family disputes –

e. Digital assets jeopardized. 

5.  Helping Children and Grandchildren -

a. 529 plans -

b. As trust beneficiaries -

c. Provide guardians of the person and the estate -