When people hear the word estate planning, they assume that it involves individuals with substantial assets that are subject to estate tax. In general, estate planning is the act of preparing for the transfer of a person’s wealth and assets after his or her death or dealing with such wealth and assets if a person becomes incompetent or incapacitated. Assets, life insurance, pensions, real estate, cars, personal belongings, and debts are all part of one’s estate. Despite the level of one’s wealth, everyone should do estate planning which includes the preparation of, at a minimum, a will, durable general power of attorney, health care power of attorney (which can include a living will), a HIPAA authorization (medical information release) and, possibly, a trust. Complex estate planning needs to include the foregoing documents, but can also deal with reducing or eliminating the implementation of the estate tax, plan for assets that can benefit the surviving spouse while ensuring assets go as you wish upon such spouse’s death (e.g., marital trust), charitable planning, business succession planning and disability planning (e.g., Medicaid for nursing home costs of care).
We can help you with any estate tax planning need and can put in place an estate plan which, among your choices, reduces the imposition of the estate tax upon your death, provides for your surviving spouse while ensuring that your assets go to your issue upon his or her death, plan for the successful transition or sale of your business upon your death, disability or retirement or plan for the costs of a nursing home or assisted living facility, etc. Let us help plan and protect your future and ensure that your estate goes where you want it to go upon your death.
Contact Weaver, Bennett & Bland at (704) 844-1400 to schedule a FREE 1 hour initial estate planning consultation with one of our experienced Charlotte estate planning attorneys who can help you with either your North Carolina or South Carolina estate planning needs.
When to Consider Estate Tax Planning
While neither North Carolina nor South Carolina currently has an estate tax or a gift tax, and the current federal estate tax exclusion ($5,490,000.00 for 2017) prevents most individuals from being subjected to estate tax upon his or death, you should consider estate tax planning:
- If your estate or you and your spouse’s combined estates exceed that amount or are close to it,
- If you have made substantial taxable gifts during your lifetime, and now you do not have enough estate tax exclusion left (used gift tax exclusion during your lifetime),
- If you own certain assets in another state which has its own estate/inheritance tax (e.g., own real property in New York).
Simple estate tax planning can include ensuring that you and your spouse both fully use your estate tax exclusion; fully utilize the annual exclusion against gift tax, a family trust for the surviving spouse, etc. More complex estate tax planning can include family limited partnerships/limited liability companies to transfer assets to the next generation while utilizing the gift tax exclusion, annual gift tax exclusion, and minority and marketability discounts. Other planning options can reduce the implementation of the estate tax so your estate is below the federal estate tax exclusion upon your death.
If you are in a second marriage and have children or issue from a prior marriage, estate planning can be complicated as you have to meet conflicting goals (e.g., providing for surviving spouse while ensuring that assets go to your issue; perhaps they do not like each other, etc.). A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can help to ensure that your assets remain yours upon your death and a marital trust can help to provide for your surviving spouse during his or her lifetime while ensuring that your assets are disposed of as you wish upon your surviving spouse’s death.