Only 18% of Americans age 55 and older have a will and two other estate planning documents, according to a new report by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. Even more concerning is that 45% of people age 55 and older do not have a will.
It is common for those who put together an estate plan to attempt to distribute assets to heirs in equal portions. The idea behind the move is logical — each kid gets an equal share of the parent’s or grandparent’s assets. But does it end up working this way?
An estate plan accounts for more than just a transfer of assets at one’s death. It guides financial planning, health care decisions and even how we gift. Anyone that puts together an estate plan with a one size fits all mentality is unlikely to make the most of the plan. When drafted wisely, an estate plan can do more than just transfer assets — it can result in serious tax savings.
Tax season is upon us. Those who are getting ready to file their tax returns may wonder whether this is the year they are chosen for an audit. Audits are generally not random. There are some red flags that can increase a taxpayer’s risk of a federal audit.
Ideally, an estate plan should be an evolving set of documents. These legal tools should change and grow with you — not remain static. Those who put together an estate plan and forget it are less likely to have an estate plan that truly reflects their desires then those who review the documents and make updates.
An estate plan can ease the transfer of assets. This includes everything from a family home to less tangible assets, like stocks. Here are three examples for the best way to discuss the transfer of stocks: