Legacy planning is essential if you have kids or other relatives who you want to leave money and property to, or if you have causes you believe in and that you want to support after your death. If you do not create a plan to grow your wealth and to protect your legacy, you could end up with the division of your assets determined by state law instead of by your own wishes. You owe it to yourself and to those who you care about to make sure you take steps to control your own legacy.
A White River Junction legacy planning lawyer at Unsworth LaPlante, PLLC can provide invaluable assistance during the entirety of the legacy planning process. We understand the steps involved in legacy planning and can help you to assess the key considerations that are important in creating a comprehensive plan to control your legacy.
Give us a call as soon as possible, as the younger you are when you start legacy planning the more likely it is that you will be able to achieve your goals to provide for your loved ones and the causes you care about.
Considerations in Legacy Planning
As you begin the process of legacy planning, there are some key considerations which must be addressed. Some of the different things you need to think about during the planning process include:
- Growing wealth: Many people want to grow a significant nest egg and leave behind a substantial legacy. If you use tax-advantaged accounts and create comprehensive money goals, you can build up wealth to leave to charities or relatives. However, even people without a lot of wealth should still get help with legacy planning as you may have items of sentimental value to distribute to heirs.
- Protecting assets during your lifetime: If you have acquired or built up significant wealth, you want to protect it while you are alive. This means making a plan for who will manage investments and property in case of incapacity, as well as planning to ensure you don’t lose your assets if you have to pay for a nursing home. You can use living trusts or create a power of attorney in order to make sure your assets are appropriately managed, while trusts can also help to ensure your assets don’t end up getting spent down if you need nursing home care.
- Avoiding estate tax: Estate tax may be assessed if the total value of your estate exceeds the excludable amount, which is set at $5.45 million as of 2016. Those with farms and businesses could reach this amount quickly, even if their estates are cash poor and don’t have a lot of liquid assets. Estate taxes could thus end up forcing heirs to sell property or take loans to pay taxes.
- Considering the special needs of your heirs: When leaving money to heirs, you need to consider their needs. If you have a friend or a relative with a disability who you are giving money to, you need to be aware that your gift could cause loss of access to government benefits like Medicaid, unless the gift is appropriately structured. With any heirs, you need to think about whether they will be responsible and how they will manage money. You can use special needs trust, spendthrift trusts, and other legal tools to deal with the issues presented by your heirs.
- Maximizing the value of charitable contributions: Many people who wish to make substantial gifts to charity will prefer to do so using charitable remainder trusts and/or creating their own charitable foundation. An attorney with experience in legacy planning can help to ensure a contribution that you make to charity is structured appropriately to do the best possible good for the cause(s) you are supporting.
Everyone’s personal situation and family situation is unique to them, and it is up to you to make smart and informed choices about what you need to do to protect and secure your legacy. Speak with a legacy planning lawyer as soon as you can so you can get started with making a plan to provide for your kids, your loved ones, and the causes that you are about.
Getting Help with Legacy Planning
To learn more about the legacy planning process, join us for a free seminar. You can also contact our White River Junction legacy planning lawyers to get personalized one-on-one advice that is tailored to your specific financial and family situation. You can give us a call at (802) 879-7133 or contact us online today so we can get started on protecting your legacy no matter what your goals are or what the future brings.
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