What You Need To Know Before Creating Your Estate Plan

1. Educate Yourself with the most Read this entire section to learn about estate planning. 

2. Determine your estate planning goals. 

3. Choose the methods and documents that satisfy your goals. 

4. Gather all of your personal information. 

5. Fill out the estate planning questionnaires. 

Estate Planning Basics

Intestacy: occurs when a person dies without a will and property is distributed according to state laws. 

Probate: is the legal process where lawyers and a court oversee the distribution of the property in your estate. The probate process can be costly and time consuming.  

Estate: An Estate is all of the property you own.

Taxable Estate: The taxable estate is the estate that is subject to estate tax.

Probate Estate: The probate estate is all the property passing through probate. 

Codicil: a codicil is an amendment to a will that changes the will. 

Transfer Taxes:


Gift Taxes: Can gift up to $14,000 a year per person to as many people as you want without owing a gift tax. 

Estate taxes are imposed on property that is passed from the deceased to the living. Federal law exempts a set dollar amount. Currently, in 2009, no estate taxes will be paid unless the taxable estate is over 3.5 million. In 2010, the estate taxes disappear. In 2011, the estate tax returns and any taxable estate over 1 million will be taxed. Intestacy occurs when a person dies without a will and property is distributed according to state laws. 

Capital Gains Taxes:  


                 Real Estate used as Primary Residence: IRS gives a tax exclusion on capital gains from a home sale. Must have been owned and used as primary residence 2 of the 5 years before it was sold. Can

                 exclude up to $250,000 of gain for individual, $500,000 for couples. 

                 Basis: the cost/amount paid/value of an asset at the time of purchase.

​                 Stepped up Basis: the basis of an asset may increase or decrease over time. If an assets value increases and is transferred at some future                    date, the difference between original cost and present value is the capital gain. When an asset is transferred, the person it is transferred to

                 takes the asset at the stepped up basis. Therefore, if an asset is transferred to you by Will or Trust, you will receive it at the stepped up basis.

Inheritance: is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual.

Inheritance Taxes: only applies to people receiving property that are not related. No tax on family members. Tax is paid by beneficiary of gift. Tax is currently 10%.

Estate Planning 101

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Amenta Law Firm

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An Estate Planning & Elder Law Practice

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​​​What Will Be Your Legacy?

Create peace of mind with a plan that secures your legacy, preserves hard earned assets and passes them on to the ones you love.