Do you know how to navigate your estate plan properly this tax season? Creating a comprehensive Florida estate plan is important but to add concerns about taxes may be a bit overwhelming. We find that many of the clients we assist know how important creating a Florida estate plan is for themselves and their families. In addition, they know it is important to protect themselves, what they love most, their businesses, and ensure the legacy they are creating will survive them. We know and understand the importance of the goals and concerns of our clients and we work with them to create a plan that will work for their unique situation.
Now part of our planning process is to not only look at who our clients want to inherit from them and who should make their decisions in a moment of crisis, but what implications their planning may or may not have. This involves a very candid look at their financial picture, including their tax structure.
Now that you know how important a role taxes play in your Florida estate plan, what should you do? Your decisions you make now may have both a lifetime and deathtime impact on your estate, which is critical to plan for. We want to share some thoughtful insights right here with you.
- To have your estate avoid federal estate taxation, you need to begin planning now. One of the benefits of living in Florida is that there are no state death taxes. However, this is not the case on the federal level. Everyone with a taxable estate high enough in value, may face estate taxation. In our office, our goal will be to minimize the risk that your estate will be taxed at your death through your comprehensive Florida estate planning. This will be completed by a careful consideration of factors including, but not limited to, your family structure, what assets comprise your taxable estate, the structure and nature of those assets, and the strategies available to you.
- Meet with your Florida estate planning attorney and carefully consider making lifetime gifts. Be aware that your estate planning and charitable donations may impact your annual taxes as well. This occurs through the gift tax. While you can give your loved ones the annual exclusion amount each year, which is $17,000 per person this year according to the IRS, you can make larger gifts each year and still avoid lifetime taxation. We highly recommend that when you consider an advanced strategy like this, you meet with your experienced Florida estate planning attorney to learn more about the pros and cons of this type of strategy as well as how it may benefit your estate down the line.
- Deciding whether to utilize an estate planning strategy that incorporates the Generation Skipping Tax (GST). Be aware that there are careful rules to plan around when it comes to using the GST as a part of your estate planning. This comes into play when you leave to a family member where there is a thirty-seven and a half year age difference or more. There can be significant benefits to this type of planning and reasons to complete it, but this strategy should not be undertaken without the advice of your experienced Florida estate planning attorney.
- Be careful not to have any unprotected property; it could impact the probating of your estate. Your plan should be to not leave any of your assets unprotected. Know that anything you own at the time of your death that does not have a co-owner or beneficiary, could be subject to the probate process. What is the probate process? It is the legal court process that allows solely owner property to pass to the intended beneficiaries. Unfortunately, as a result of the probate process, this is after creditors have the opportunity to file their claims against your estate. Again, when you are planning for your estate and your taxes, it is critical to work with your Florida estate planning attorney to create the right trust agreement for you. It is a trust agreement, and not a last will and testament, that can help you avoid the probate process.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you not to wait to ask us your elder law questions on this or any important issue facing Florida seniors today. The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.