An "estate plan" is an arrangement for the conservation, investment, use, management, and transfer of a person's property, both during the person's lifetime and after the person's death. The process by which a person's property is arranged so as to gain the maximum benefits of pertinent laws while carrying out the person's wishes for transfer of the property to others is called "estate planning." Estate planning involves the creation, preservation and distribution of family wealth. Estate planning is concerned with the cost of accumulating wealth, proper asset management during life and after death, as well as the transfer of wealth between older and younger generations. The overlap of income and transfer tax issues requires the estate planner to be familiar with personal, corporate and partnership income taxation, gift and death taxation, charitable planning and taxation reporting requirements.
A "good" estate plan will combine different characteristics. It will always take into account the tax consequences of particular estate planning choices, though it will never be dominated by those consequences. It will seek to combine sound investment techniques with sound legal planning. It will keep the client's personal needs and desires in mind, balancing them with the client's wishes with respect to family members, friends, charitable beneficiaries, and others. It will recognize opportunities for transferring part of the client's property to other persons or entities while the client is living and seek to accomplish these transfers in the most efficient and economical method possible, consistent with respect for the client's personal needs, investment considerations, and tax savings opportunities. It will plan for the ultimate disposition of the client's property after the client's death in a way that will ensure that the client's wishes are respected and that the objects of the client's bounty will receive the maximum benefits from the property.
Estates & Trusts