Estate planning can seem complicated at any income level. Considering your assets, thinking through how you want those assets distributed, choosing guardians for your children, and selecting executors, trustees, and other fiduciaries can all take time and money, especially when done without the guidance of a skilled estate planning attorney. For high net worth individuals, though, this can be even more difficult with more assets of varied type to consider. Another issue high net worth individuals, who generally have more than $1 million in liquid assets, have to carefully consider is the impact of taxes on their estates. Taxes can limit the amount you ultimately bequeath to your beneficiaries. An attorney will know the ever-changing wealth and estate tax landscape and help you avoid taking a big hit when the time comes.
Wealth Transfer Taxes
In addition to the more commonly known income taxes, there are three types of taxes to consider when estate planning. These types of taxes are collectively known as wealth transfer taxes and include gift taxes, estate taxes, and generation-skipping taxes. These can all be minimized or avoided through creative planning and the use of trusts.
Gift taxes are taxes paid by a person who transfers assets to another person without receiving something in return and are quite common. There are federal gift taxes that range from 18% to 40%, depending on the amount of the gift, and some states impose gift taxes as well.