Saturday, February 13, 2010

How Should You Plan Your Estate In This Time Of Federal Estate Tax Uncertainty?

Now let's move on to a more practical topic. I keep writing about the uncertainty with the federal estate tax. A more pertinent question that applies to everyone is: With this uncertainty in the law, what should and can I do about it?

How Do We Plan In This Time Of Flux?
3 Key Things To Remember.

First, do an estate plan. If you fail to plan -- you are planning to fail. Also, keep your plan updated. Make an annual checkup with your estate planning attorney (even if for 15 minutes) to let him or her know if there are any changes in your circumstances or to see if the changes in the law effect you.

Second, it's all about your loved ones! If estate taxes would not affect you, don't think there is no need for an estate plan. The reality is that estate taxes currently affect less than one percent of people. So why do you need an estate plan or trust? Your family, your loved ones or your charities. That's why.

Third, don't procrastinate on this issue. We all procrastinate on some tasks but put this one at the top of your "to do" list as what I call a "most important task"! And don't even think about using this estate tax uncertainty as another excuse to procrastinate. (Please excuse my lame procrastination joke :)

An experienced estate attorney can help break all this down into very manageable tasks for a reasonable fixed fee and will do almost all the work for you in tax planning and helping you carry out your wishes. You just have to make the major decisions such as who will be your child's guardian and who will receive your assets.

Without a current estate plan, you could be harming the futures of those people who are the most important to you. Ask yourself: Do I want confusion and turmoil to be what I leave to my heirs and family? We all know the answer to that question is a resounding "no."

But go ahead and ask yourself:

How would I want my assets to be managed if I became incapacitated with early dementia or passed away?

Who would care for my minor children if something happens to me or my spouse?

Do I want my family in litigation over my estate? How do I avoid probate litigation?

Do I want piece of mind on a day-to-day basis that my estate plan is in place?

These are questions we all have to ask ourselves. And the answers remind us why we all have to plan regardless of whether or not we are subject to the federal estate tax.

Posted by Henry (Hank) J. Moravec, III, a partner at Moravec, Varga & Mooney. For a complimentary 30 minute consultation (telephonic or in person), you can e-mail Hank Moravec at hm@moravecslaw.com or call him at (626) 793-3210 or (818) 769-4221.

Mr. Moravec is a very experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorney, Los Angeles trust attorney and Los Angeles probate attorney. He has more than 20 years' experience in avoiding taxes with estate planning and is extremely dedicated to his clients and helping them create a plan that is tailored to their wishes, finances, helps avoid probate and taxes, and takes into account their families' unique situation.

He focuses his practice on Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Administration, Beneficiary and Trustee Representation, Probate Litigation, Tax Law, and Nonprofit Law. He represents clients throughout Southern California and his offices are conveniently located for clients in the Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

The firm website is http://www.moravecslaw.com/. The firm has two offices and consultations and meetings can be held at either office.

The San Gabriel Valley office is located at 2233 Huntington Drive, Suite 17, San Marino, California 91108. Telephone: (626) 793-3210.

The San Fernando Valley office is located at 4605 Lankershim Boulevard, Suite 718, North Hollywood, California 91602-1878. Telephone: (818) 769-4221.