Putting off the creation of an estate plan is not uncommon. It’s a topic that many Georgia residents would prefer to avoid. Furthermore, there is more to an estate plan than just writing a will. Estate owners should start by making a list of all their assets and liabilities. This provides the basis for moving ahead with an estate plan that designates what property will go to which beneficiaries.
It’s possible to gift most or all of an estate during one’s lifetime; although, there are limits if those gifts are to remain tax-free. In 2019, the limit for tax-free gifting per individual is $15,000. Over a lifetime, the total tax-free gifting limit is $11.4 million. These amounts can change, so it is worth keeping up with those changes if gifting is a significant part of an estate planning strategy. Many people do not realize that estate planning also involves planning for end-of-life care. People should consider what kind of care they want and who they want to make medical and financial decisions for them at this stage.
If possible, it’s important to think of estate planning as a family affair. Ideally, estate owners should sit down with family members, discuss the plan and take suggestions.
Unfortunately, involving most or all family members will not be possible in some situations. It’s important to talk to people who have certain roles, such as executors or people who have power of attorney, and ensure that they are prepared to step into those roles and have the information they need. If there are likely to be family conflicts, it’s also important to appoint an executor who will be able to manage those conflicts.