Estate planning focuses on the creation and implementation of a plan that effectively transfers a client's assets to achieve his or her goals in a tax efficient manner. The primary document in implementing the plan is the client's last will and testament or a revocable trust. These documents control who receives which assets upon the client's death. In addition to the estate plan governing the transfer of assets upon a client's death, the plan frequently provides for a tax efficient transfer of a portion of the client's assets during the client's lifetime.
The minimization of federal estate taxes, state inheritance taxes, and federal income taxes is frequently a primary consideration in the creation and implementation of the client's estate plan. For 2005, the top marginal estate tax rate is forty-seven percent (47%). Other significant considerations include divorce protection, asset protection, charitable deductions, and maintaining the client's assets among the client's descendants upon the subsequent death of the surviving spouse and/or children.
Effective estate planning frequently includes the use and integration of several of the following: