An estate is the total property, real and personal, owned by an individual prior to distribution through a trust or will. Real property is real estate and personal property includes everything else, for example cars, household items, and bank accounts. Estate planning distributes the real and personal property to an individual's heirs.
Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended beneficiaries and flexibility for the individual prior to death. A major concern for drafters of estate plans is federal and state tax law.
Wills and trusts are common ways in which individuals dispose of their wealth. Trusts, unlike wills, have the benefit of avoiding probate, a lengthy and costly legal process that oversees the transfer of assets.
Too often families wait until late in life to plan the distribution of their estates. By starting early in life, you can focus first on building an inheritance and later on preserving and protecting the assets you've accumulated.
Our advisors can help throughout the lifetime estate-planning process. For example, we can help value your assets, discuss trusts, examine the implications of joint ownership and identify an executor. Our advisors also can help with such specific tax issues as the federal estate tax, unified credit for estate and gift taxes, marital deductions and generation-skipping transfers.
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