If estate plans were only about money, they would not be so difficult to create. Instead, parties must first come to terms with their own eventual death, and they must consider where and how they would like money to be distributed. Since family matters can be highly complex and sometimes volatile, and the rules for handling assets upon one’s death can vary by type and situation, such decisions regarding inheritances can be more than just difficult. One possible solution is to use “lifetime gifts” as your guide. Learn more in the following sections, including how our seasoned estate planning attorneys can help with drafting your initial estate plan.
What is a Lifetime Gift?
Lifetime gifts are often used as an estate-planning strategy for reducing federal and state taxes, which means they are most commonly used in estate plans that exceed either the $4 million Illinois state estate tax exemption or the $5.5 million federal estate tax exemption. Each gift, which may equal up to $15,000 in value each year ($30,000 maximum for married couples giving a joint gift), reduces the value of the estate, thereby reducing the amount that heirs will be taxed when they inherit it. Lifetime gifts can do more than simply lower the tax load of one’s estate, however. They can also benefit the guarantor during the estate planning process.
Using Lifetime Gifts to Aid You in Estate Planning
One of the biggest struggles that guarantors face is deciding how to distribute their wealth among heirs. Some are not even sure if the total value of the estate should be divided equally among children, or if personality and spending habits be considered when deciding how much to give a specific heir? Those who are considering the latter may use lifetime gifting as a part of their estate planning strategy.
Consider this example: You have two children – one that has always been responsible with money and life decisions, and another that usually spends money frivolously and seems to struggle with making good and healthy life decisions. Perhaps the latter has made attempts to improve things, so you want to leave them an inheritance. Yet, because of their history with money, you are concerned that they will squander whatever you leave to them. A lifetime gift, given to them with conditions, can help you determine how well they might handle an inheritance. You can also give lifetime gifts to extended family members that you may not know very well to determine how they might handle any wealth that you decide to leave them.
Contact Our Wheaton Estate Planning Attorneys
Lifetime gifting is just one of many strategies that guarantors can use during the estate planning process. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can assist you in using it, as well as any others that may serve your needs. Schedule a consultation with our DuPage County wills and trusts lawyers by calling 630-665-2500 today.