Charitable giving can be a philanthropic and strategic move for high-asset families. While the majority of California families do not have the net worth required for estate tax, those that do will face reduction of the estate due to taxation. Effective estate planning allots for strategies for reducing estate taxes, and charitable giving is one way that families can do that.
As the old adage goes, there are only two constants in life -- death and taxes. Luckily, folks who understand this fact can look to the future and plan for both. Recent changes to the tax exempt income threshold have already helped many in California with reducing estate taxes. Strategic choices about gifting and distributing assets can help others to pay less tax.
An individual can spend one's entire life building a legacy, assuming it will ultimately be given to the family and friends that he or she loves the most. Unfortunately, assumptions and failure to maintain the details of that legacy mean that it is at risk should the person die with the wrong beneficiary designations on important life insurance documents and investments. Protecting assets includes creating a will as well as keeping important documents up to date. A recent news article shares horror stories as well as strategies for avoiding a beneficiary mix-up that people in California may find interesting.
Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, are increasingly used in California and nationwide. At the end of 2016, there were about 20 million of these accounts in operation, which was a 20 percent rise from the year before. There are big tax benefits that may motivate some people to open an HSA as part of an estate planning program, but these are usually persons who are relatively healthy and wealthier than most.
Avoiding probate is a popular subject in California and elsewhere. It is often blogged about online and discussed in general by persons contemplating or in the process of putting together estate planning components. Some people prefer to have their heirs avoid the time-consuming and public nature of the probate process.
One important fact about federal estate taxes in California and nationwide is that a decedent has a $5.45 million gift and estate tax exemption at death. This generally excludes those in the middle class of the economy from incurring a federal estate tax, and generally eliminates the issue from their estate planning considerations. However, more and more people are facing the potential of being wealthy enough at death to want to plan correctly for the possibility of a federal estate tax at death.
Planning for the future is important for everyone, regardless of income level or the size of one's estate. Many people neglect to take formal estate planning steps because they believe that they do not need it, but in reality, it is a necessity in order to protect loved ones from complications and disputes in the future. In California and elsewhere, the beginning of the year is a beneficial time to carefully review estate planning documents or start the planning process.
There are many things in life that the average person in California does not want to do; however, it is important that some of these things are addressed. For instance, many do not want to pay bills or taxes, but if these items are not paid there could be serious financial repercussions. Likewise, if one does not plan for the end of life and the best method for protecting assets, there could also be serious financial repercussions.
Perhaps the only thing that is certain is that the political landscape throughout California and the United States as a whole is changing. Each political party has stated their case, and the voters have made a decision. Along with the many other changes that will gradually come in to play, many estate planning experts are expecting there to be some changes in the estate planning process.
Over the years, the average individual will accumulate both assets and liabilities. These will often be in the form of real estate, investments, collections, mortgages and other personal debt. While this accumulation is normal for most California residents, how to handle these assets and liabilities as a part of one's estate is unique to each individual. For this reason, estate planning is crucial for those wanting to make things easier and protect assets for the next generation.