If you have a significant net worth, proper estate planning isn’t just desirable—it’s a must. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can minimize your estate tax liability, avoid probate and protect your beneficiaries’ inheritance. Working with an experienced estate planning firm like James Bart Leonardi, LLC helps to ensure your estate will be managed according to your wishes.
Choose the right trustee(s)
High net worth estates are typically more complex than average net worth estates. Trustees and personal representatives often have significantly more work to do; from settling the estate, to distributing and accounting for trust assets.
For this reason, it’s usually best to hire a professional trustee. Professional trust administration often guarantees your wishes will be carried out according to the letter of the law. However, it is very important to vet your trustee(s) thoroughly. Be sure to read reviews, ask friends and colleagues whom they trust, and discuss your estate planning goals with potential trustees. Don’t feel pressured to pick the first professional you interview. Take the time to make sure you work with someone who can truly meet your needs.
Minimize estate taxes
Various state and gift taxes can quickly drain your assets, and may not provide for your loved ones the way you had hoped. It’s very important to work with a highly experienced estate planning attorney who can help minimize your estate tax liability.
If your estate is currently worth $12.92 million or more, federal estate taxes may be hefty without proper planning. Ohio does not levy state estate taxes. Gifting is one way to reduce your tax liability, however, there are limits to how much money can be gifted gift before it is taxed.
There is an annual $17,000 gift threshold per individual. If you gift $20,000 to an individual, everything above the threshold ($3,000 in this case) is subject to a 40 percent tax. The $12.92 million will be reduced by the amount you have gifted in your lifetime. If you gave away $6 million during your lifetime, your tax liability would be based on $6.92 million (or more if your estate is valued more than $12.92 million).
Finally, generation-skipping transfer taxes may also apply if you’ve given money to grandchildren or great-grandchildren during your lifetime.
These are just a few of the estate planning concerns high net worth individuals must plan for. Without a comprehensive estate plan, your hard-earned assets could dwindle under mismanagement and taxation.
For assistance with your estate plan, call James Bart Leonardi, LLC today.