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The ABC's of estate planning

For many Nevada residents, estate planning can be an intimidating process. There are so many questions, and so many details to address, the sheer magnitude of it all can be overwhelming. How will estate planning benefit my children? Or, what's the most effective way to transfer my wealth to my family members?

While the list of questions and possibilities is extensive, there are a few basic tips that can help guide one on the path to estate planning peace of mind. First, it's a good idea to take time to understand the options available for the transfer of wealth.

One such method is "gifting". A lifetime gift can provide a number of advantages, especially when it comes to taxes, over gifts bequeathed in a will. Second, the establishment of a grantor retained income trust is a viable and beneficial option for making a lifetime transfer to one's children. One of the reasons a retained income trust is considered such a powerful tool in estate planning is because the value of the initial transfer can often be discounted for federal gift tax purposes.

For most people, the extensive list of gifting options, beneficiary options and executor responsibilities -- along with the host of other details associated with estate planning -- is often too much for one person to handle. Fortunately there are legal professionals who have dedicated their practice to probate law and estate planning. Nevada residents who find themselves overwhelmed by the possibilities will likely be best served to consult with legal counsel who may be able to devise a plan for helping clients weigh out their best options.

Source: The Des Moines Register, "Retained income trusts benefit heirs," Frank Mokosak, Aug. 26, 2011

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