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Estate Planning for Everyone
[2010-02-11]

Mr. Kimmer W. Callahan

(As Published in the Coeur d’Alene Press)Over the years, I have found there is one major driving force which causes people to think about estate planning – “I don’t want the Government to get my money.”  The reality is that most Americans, under the current estate tax laws, will not have to pay estate taxes.  Tax reduction is only a small portion of good estate planning.

Good estate planning is really about you – What are your goals?  What is important to you? What legacy do you want to leave?  What issues do your loved-ones face?  How do you want to be remembered?  What affect will an inheritance have on your heirs?  These are the questions that drive comprehensive estate planning.  Estate planning is really about designing and crafting your lasting mark on those closest to you.

The beauty of this approach to estate planning is that the legacy we leave behind is limited only by our imagination.  Each family has its own unique dynamics. So, we should each have a customized plan to create our legacy.  Let’s look as some potential issues and possible solutions.

Charitable Planning

Providing for the causes that are important to us does not have to be in conflict with our desire to provide for our loved-ones.  By using specific types of trusts, provisions can be made for both family and charity.  One option is to designate a portion of the estate to provide income to family members, and after the family members pass on, the remaining portion goes to the designated charitable organization.  Another option is to provide income to a charity for a period of time, and then have the remaining portion pass to your heirs. If you have young grandchildren, this approach is a good way to benefit a cause you care about, while providing a benefit to your grandchildren when they are old enough to make good use of the legacy you leave to them.  It may also pass on to the next generation the importance you place on helping others.

Beneficiaries with Special Needs

If you have a loved-one that is receiving or may receive state or federal benefits due to a handicap or disability, you can structure your affairs to help provide for that person.  Generally, if a person receives and inheritance they will be disqualified to receive government assistance until that inheritance is consumed.  By using a Supplemental Needs Trust you can establish a fund which will provide that loved-one with a higher standard of living without interfering with their governmental aid.

Personal Family Issues

If a child has a drug addiction, a rocky marriage, financial problems, or any other issue that raises concerns about their ability to make wise decisions regarding their inheritance, your estate plan can be crafted to help protect your legacy by controlling when and how distributions are made.  Distributions could be deferred until a set age, until specific events take place (graduation, clean drug tests, et cetera), made only for specific purposes (buying a house, starting a business, education, et cetera), limited only to income, a specific amount, or to match the child’s earned income, or used to establish as a retirement fund.

I challenge you to consider your legacy. Now is the time to create an estate plan to bring that desired legacy to fulfillment.  The only way to complete a goal is to start.  Call now for your free, no-obligation consultation – 208.449-1147.

Callahan & Associates, Chtd.
By Kimmer W. Callahan
Attorney at Law