A New Look at Estate Planning

Presented by Brian Leising

Congress set the new estate tax threshold at $5,000,000, but your clients don’t have to be multi-millionaires to benefit from basic estate planning.  They may not be subject to the estate tax, but there are plenty of other taxes, fees and delays you can help your clients avoid upon death.

Here are two simple ideas you can use with just about anyone.

Beneficiary designations

A beneficiary review can uncover many problems.  If minor children are named as beneficiaries, the courts will decide who distributes the money and how.  They will do what is most convenient to the court, not what the client’s wishes might have been.  If the insured’s estate is named, it will cause a non-probate asset (life insurance) to go through probate.  This causes delay and increases settlement expenses and attorney fees. A producer who offers to help make sure beneficiary designations accomplish what clients want will become a trusted advisor – and the beneficiary of new business, cross-sales and referral introductions.

Wealth Transfer

Some individuals have more money than they need to live on during retirement.  If they have tax-qualified money, heirs may be forced to pay ordinary income tax on estate distributions upon their death.  A strategy that clients can consider is to pay the tax today on all or part of the qualified money, before the money accumulates further and poses a greater tax burden in the future.  Repositioning the money inside a life insurance policy will give heirs a tax-free benefit and the death benefit will more than make up for any taxes due today.

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