Owning a business is hard work. Whether you have started your business from scratch or purchased it, business ownership is a challenging and rewarding experience. When you put so much time, energy, and money into making sure you operate a successful business, it is important to make sure you put mechanisms in place to protect that business should you pass away. A recent article from Forbes reports that around 60 percent of small business owners across the country do not have a business succession plan in place. That means nearly three out of every five small business owners is vulnerable in the event of an unexpected death. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure the viability of your business and developing a comprehensive estate plan that includes a business succession plan working an experienced estate planning attorney can be helpful.

Basics of a Succession Plan

A business succession plan is a plan of action to transfer ownership and management responsibilities within a business. They are particularly important for small business owners that own their business outright as sudden events such as death or incapacitation can have a significant impact on your business.

The importance of education cannot be underestimated. From the foundations built in grade school to higher education, the rewards of focusing on education are many. So, too, are the costs. It is no secret that education, specifically higher education, can be costly and result in an individual incurring a lot of debt. Many people want to see their children and grandchildren avoid the pitfalls such hefty debt can cause, and comprehensive estate planning can be an effective way to help make sure the costs of college do not break the bank.

Direct Tuition Payments

If you want to contribute to decreasing the financial burden college can take, then you may want to consider making direct tuition payments to the school the individual is attending. If you have the financial security to be able to contribute in this way, there are few consequences – unless something were to happen to you.

While we have written about it before, choosing the right estate planning attorney for your needs is an extremely important step as you explore a comprehensive estate planning strategy. You will need to work closely with your estate planning attorney to develop an effective approach to estate planning, and with so much on the line it is important for you to make the right choice. The following tips may be helpful in helping you select an estate planning attorney that is right for you.

Choose an Estate Planning Attorney

Most attorneys receive the same basic legal education. However, many of them go on to focus on specific areas so that they can develop deeper understanding of the various nuances involved in their practice area. The same is true of estate planning. Estate planning attorneys that focus their practice on working with clients throughout the estate planning process can take a thorough and dynamic approach to meeting your estate planning needs.

For many individuals, intellectual property is not just something they create but also how they make their living. They might create content for websites, write fiction novels, act in movies, make graphic designs, or engage in any other aspect of intellectual property. Often intellectual property produces royalties or other residual income that needs to be accounted for No matter what your connection to intellectual property in your name, it is important to consider such property when determining the best comprehensive estate planning strategy to meet your needs. Often this involves assigning rights to that property to a trust, but there are a number of options available to those concerned about the future of their intellectual property rights.

The Basic Process

Generally, any intellectual property in the name of a deceased individual becomes part of that individual’s estate. That means such property could go through probate if you do not have the proper estate planning mechanisms in place to handle your property.

For many people, owning real estate is part of a lifelong dream. When someone has worked to obtain real estate, it is typical for them to want to pass such an asset on to an heir or heirs so that others can enjoy the benefits of such property. In many circumstances, it may be more beneficial for individuals to explore selling inherited real estate. In order to make the most informed choice about whether to sell your inherited real estate, it is important to understand the effects your choice may have. Working with your own experienced estate planning attorney can help you make more informed decisions about real estate.

Important Considerations

One of the first steps in handling inherited real estate is to wait for the probate process to run its course to determine what individual has the right to initiate a sale. An executor will distribute property according to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, so you will need to wait for that process to conclude, too. If you are inheriting equal shares of real estate with a sibling or other beneficiary, then you need to consider how their interests and approach will affect your rights in the property.

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to comprehensive estate planning, not the least of which is choosing the vehicles you will use in your estate planning strategy to meet your needs. However, individuals inheriting from you may also need to be concerned with important considerations like the potential tax consequences of being a beneficiary.

What is the inheritance tax?

One of the most common tax considerations when it comes to estate planning is the estate tax itself, a federal tax applied to estates valued at over a certain amount. The new tax bill doubles the exemption, and many people will not have to worry about the federal estate tax at the moment. However, many states also have estate taxes – including New York. In New York, the current state tax exemption is approximately half of the new federal exemption amount and sits at $5,250,000. That means any estates worth over that amount in New York are subject to the state estate tax even if they are no longer subject to the federal estate tax.

Comprehensive estate planning is an important part of life. It is an effective way to make sure the assets you have earned are protected and can be distributed to your loved ones when the time comes. Often, younger married couples engage in mutual estate planning together – especially when children enter the picture. While that is a crucial step in securing your financial future, some marriages end in divorce. When that happens, you need to effectively plan ahead for the issues you might face as a result of your divorce.

Hold onto Assets

Maintaining control of your property is important. A divorce can invalidate an ex-spouse’s claim to your property, which means there is little chance that they might obtain things like a home should you suddenly pass away.

Comprehensive estate planning can be an extensive process, especially if you have many different assets. However, there are also other important considerations when it comes to an effective estate plan, including family members with disabilities. For a long time, special needs trusts were the vehicle of choice in ensuring that a family member with special needs can continue to receive care even after a caretaker passes away. In the last few years, a new option has become available: an ABLE account.

The Basics

ABLE accounts were created by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014. While anyone can establish a special needs trusts, only individuals who reside in states that permit ABLE accounts or whose state has contracted with another state to offer such accounts are eligible. New York has an ABLE account program in place, and utilizing it may help you better address your family’s needs.

One of the biggest stories of 2017 is the new legislation that passed in December that drastically changed the government’s tax code. With such sweeping new changes, it is more important than ever to make sure that your estate plan is as comprehensive as possible and still addresses your need effectively. Some of the major changes many individuals with existing estate plans need to worry about are discussed below.

Estate Tax

One aspect of the bill that has a significant impact on estate planning approaches and portfolios is how the estate tax was handled. In essence, the estate tax threshold has doubled. In the past, the exemption hovered around five million dollars for individuals and roughly double that for couples. Now, the exemption has been increased to nearly eleven million dollars for an individual and double that for a couple. As in the past, the exemption threshold is tied to inflation and will continue to increase each year.

We have recently written about various estate planning mechanisms that can enable you to pay for a young person’s college tuition. If you are interested in making those types of arrangements, it is important to understand how they might affect your estate plan. A college savings plan could become an important part of your comprehensive estate planning strategy.

The Basics

College savings plans, or 529 plans, come in a variety of shapes. There are many characteristics that you need to consider when determining the plan that is right for you. One of the most popular 529 plans is the prepaid tuition plan. With this type of plan, you make cash contributions to an account that invests that money and gains interest over the life of the account. The earnings the account makes are tax-free so long as they are used for qualifying expenses related to higher education.

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