It is important to understand the impact of a comprehensive estate plan and how it will protect you and your family should an untimely death or disability occur, or in the event of a catastrophic lawsuit against you. Below are some questions that will help you to think about specific issues important to you and your family.
1) Do you have a current Living Will (Advance Directive)?
2) Are you certain that your current estate plan will avoid all federal estate, gift or inheritance
taxes for your family?
3) Are you comfortable that you have taken all possible steps to avoid contests and disputes after your death and that your wealth will be transferred under a plan that is controlled by your wishes and desires?
4) Are you confident that your current estate plan protects you from unnecessary placement in a nursing home and provides clear instructions for in-home health care?
5) Is there a fully funded Living Trust in place as part of your estate plan, so that your family can avoid the delays and expenses of probate and maintain full control of your assets?
6) Is there a fully funded Family Limited Partnership or LLC in place as part of your estate plan to protect your assets from lawsuits and transfer your wealth during your lifetime and at your death with at least a 30% discount from Gift and Estate Taxes?
A fully funded living trust or Family Limited Partnership is a trust or partnership in which legal title to all of your assets or investments have been retitled and transferred into the name of the trust or partnership
7) Are you certain you have a plan in place that will help you to maintain control of your wealth
while you are alive, take care of you and your loved ones in the event of your disability and
give what you have to whom you want, the way you want and when you want, and save every possible dollar of taxes, court costs and professional fees?
8) Do you have a Health Care Power of Attorney to permit your spouse or children to make emergency health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make your own health care decisions?
9) Are you confident that your estate plan will allow your family to avoid costly guardianship and
help you to maintain control of your wealth and personal affairs in the event of your incapacity?
10) Does your current estate plan prevent the IRS and the NC Department of Revenue from taking 60% of your life insurance proceeds from your family?
11) Does your current estate plan will allow you to prepay your estate taxes at a 70% to 80%
12) Are you confident that your current plan protects your surviving spouse and children from creditors, predators, lawsuits, and failed marriages?
13) Have you taken steps to protect your children’s inheritance in the event your surviving spouse chooses to remarry?
14) Have you done everything possible to make sure that you are never hooked up to machines
so that your dying is never unnecessarily prolonged by artificial means or heroic measures?
15) Have you taken steps to protect your grandchildren’s inheritance if your child dies and his or her spouse remarries?
16) Does your present estate plan maintain your and your family’s privacy and prevent it from becoming part of the public record at the courthouse?
17) Have your included your favorite charities in your present estate plan?
18) Do you presently have a plan in place which will allow your family to continue to maintain
control of your family business in the event of your untimely death or disability?
19) Do you have a plan in place which assures that your present lifestyle will not be affected
by changes in the economy or poorly designed tax savings schemes?
20) Do you have a plan in place that will not only help you legally avoid unnecessary capital
gains tax and estate taxes, but will also allow you to legally take an income tax deduction for choosing to avoid these unnecessary capital gains taxes and estate taxes?
21) Are you certain that your current estate plan contains the documents and insurance necessary for your long-term health care in the future, to help prevent the impoverishment of your spouse or family from the devastating effects of a catastrophic long-term injury or illness?
22) Does your current estate plan contain the protection required to allow your family to
save up to $780,000 or more in federal and state estate taxes?
23) Are you certain that the amount of your investments, along with the total amount of your life insurance, will give your family the ability to perpetuate capital and spend only the income?
24) Have you recently checked the beneficiary designations of your retirement and life insurance plans to make sure that you have NOT listed your estate or any minor children as either primary or secondary beneficiaries?
25) Are you certain that your present estate plan will protect you and your family from lawsuits
and government confiscation?
26) Have you transferred some of your wealth to a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) that provides you with income for a period of time and then transfers that wealth to a family member or charity at a gift tax discount?
27) Do you have a Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT) that allows you to live in your home for a period of time and then transfers your home to other family members or charity at a gift tax discount?
28) Are you aware of the advantage of Offshore Asset Protection Trust Planning?
29) Do you have a special trust that will allow you estate to get a large discount on estate taxes by deferring your children’s inheritance in exchange for providing income to charity for a few years?
30) If you answered NO to any of these questions, are you confident that you you will never become incapacitated, get sued, or die?
Adapted from a checklist from Peter J. Parenti, Esq.