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Estate planning for tax protection and savings

With the annual welcome of the new year, many Georgia residents take up resolutions. These often include getting fit, eating better, writing a novel or taking care of important preparatory details. Estate planning is one important thing that many Americans delay repeatedly. Unfortunately, this can complicate the process later on. That's why putting an estate plan in place is a great 2020 New Year's resolution.

The SECURE Act and estate planning changes

With the estate tax exemption at $11.4 million for individuals and twice that for married couples, the Tax Policy Center estimated that fewer than 2,000 estates in 2018 did not receive this exemption. This change means that the concern for affluent families in Georgia has shifted to other tax-related estate issues. In particular, the SECURE Act means there are a number of different strategies that should be considered for 2020.

Determining if two trusts are needed

Wills and trusts are designed to allow a person to control their assets and make sure their families are provided for when they are gone. Georgia residents may wonder if it is possible to have more than one trust and if a second trust would revoke the first one.

Why the location of a trust may be important

Those who reside in Georgia may decide to include a trust as part of their estate plans. However, it may be possible to create the document in another state, and many people choose to locate their trusts in Delaware. Delaware is a popular option because beneficiaries who don't live there don't have to pay state income tax on distributions from a trust. Of course, it is possible that a beneficiary will owe taxes in his or her home state.

Important steps to take when crafting an estate plan

Georgia residents and others will ideally create an estate plan that takes care of their needs both while alive and after passing. It is also important that individuals can articulate what their plan does and how it could impact the lives of family members and friends. One of the key issues to consider is how assets will be distributed. In some cases, it may be best to leave them directly to a beneficiary.

How to overcome estate planning roadblocks

Georgia residents may not like contemplating their mortality. However, creating a thorough plan can make it easier for surviving family members to settle an estate in a timely manner. It may be best to create a list of physical assets and financial assets in the beginning planning stages. This may make it easier for people to inventory their possessions and decide what to do with them.

Estate planning is changing in the modern world

In previous generations, the typical American family consisted of a married wife and husband living at home with their biological children. However, only about 35% of couples in Georgia and throughout the country today are what would fall under that category of a "traditional family." Therefore, it will likely be necessary for most people to have estate plans that look different than the ones that their parents or grandparents put together.

Proposed estate tax changes prompt interest in trusts

Georgia residents who have put off drafting an estate plan may now be thinking about taking action due to the estate tax reforms being proposed by several leading political figures. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both support slashing exemptions to pay for programs that would expand health care, forgive student loan debt and fund infrastructure projects, which has prompted many people who do not think of themselves as rich to start worrying about estate taxes.

What to know about special needs trusts

Parents of special needs children in Georgia and throughout the country face a variety of obstacles raising their sons and daughters. One of the challenges that they face is ensuring that there is enough money or other resources to provide the care that they need. It is not uncommon for special needs individuals to rely on Medicaid or other government programs to provide some of those resources. However, there are income or asset restrictions that participants in those programs need to abide by.

The advantages of trusts over wills

Individuals may be able to benefit from having both wills and trusts in their estate plan. However, it is important for Georgia residents and others to understand the key differences between the two estate planning tools. If an asset is controlled by a will, it will have be distributed under the guidance of a probate judge. If an asset is controlled by a trust, there is no need to go through probate.

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