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Estate planning advice

Estate planning is not just for the rich.
Estate planning is not just for the rich according to CPA Chris Gamble, Managing Partner at the accounting firm of Kroner Gamble + Company.

Gamble discussed the importance of estate planning Monday morning on News 8 at Sunrise.

He cited the late actor James Gandolfini as a recent example where estate planning has been in the news.  The heirs to Gandolfini's estate may have to pay upwards of $30 million in estate taxes, nearly half the value of the estate's estimated assets.

Estate planning is essentially planning in advance of death whom you want to receive your assets, which specific assets you want individuals to receive and when they should receive them.  Typically the following documents are recommended for estate planning:

1. Will - establishes your executor(s) guardianship for minors and asset distribution to beneficiaries

2. Durable Power of Attorney - allows others to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so

3. Living Will - statement of your wishes to receive or not receive life-sustaining medical care if you are terminally ill and unable to communicate

4. Health Care Proxy - authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf

Gamble noted there are important differences between state and federal estate taxes.  Current federal law allows an individual to own a little over $5 million in assets and not pay any estate taxes.  New York state law only allows an individual a $1 million exemption.

Individuals can prepare their own estate documents, or seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney and a certified public accountant to consider any tax implications.  Either way, Gamble recommends revisiting your estate documents periodically to update important life events, such as the birth of a child.

For more information, Gamble said people can go to estateplanning.com or visit his company site, click here.
 
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