Top Strategies for Estate and Gift Planning


The estate and gift tax laws in the United States are complex and can be confusing. There are a number of strategies that individuals can use to reduce or in some cases eliminate the tax burden associated with transferring property at death. The United States has one of the highest estate tax rates in the world. If you die without a will or living trust, your assets could be subject to an inheritance tax that could reach 55% (federal and state combined). In addition, if you don’t have a will or trust, the court may appoint someone to handle your estate.

What Is an Estate?

An estate is comprised of all your assets, including cash, investments, real estate, and personal property. The value of this financial estate needs to be determined in order for you to see the full picture as it were. What you do need to know is that there are two types of taxes that come into play when you die:

Estate Taxes.

The estate tax is a complicated and confusing area of law that requires specialized knowledge to navigate. Many people are unaware that they may be subject to it, or how much their estates could be impacted by it. If you have assets you want to pass on after your death, there’s no time like the present to learn about how planning can help minimize potential future taxes for your heirs.

If you’re an American citizen or a U.S. resident who has assets that you want to pass on to your heirs after you die, then it’s important for you to understand how these taxes work so that they don’t catch you off guard when the time comes. You can reduce the taxes you owe on your estate by carefully planning how to allocate your assets before death. Unless Congress revises the tax laws, there are several key strategies that you can employ now while you’re alive which may give your heirs more opportunities after you pass away.

Inheritance Taxes.

When a person dies, assets are distributed to beneficiaries and taxes are due on the value of those assets. The size of the estate determines how much tax you pay. That’s why it is so important for every person with assets to make plans as soon as possible. An inheritance tax is a tax imposed by certain states on those who are bequeathed or receive assets from the estate of a deceased person. The tax rate depends on the state of residence, the value of the inheritance, and the beneficiary’s relationship to the decedent. Inheritance tax is known in some countries as a “death duty” and is occasionally called “the last twist of the taxman’s knife.”


However, the top strategies for estate and gift planning can help ensure that your family receives all of your assets after death while also avoiding potential tax burdens. Although there are many potential strategies that you can use to transfer property upon death, below are a few of the more common strategies utilized and that you may want to consider evaluating which may be useful to you, your family, and the legacy you will leave behind:

• Using trusts and other entities to own assets instead of individuals

• Increasing the bequest exclusion amount to minimize estate taxes

• Continued gifting while you’re alive and leaving assets at death

• Gift-splitting with family members

• Controlling costs through tax planning


What kind of impact will taxes have on your retirement and estate? You can increase your financial freedom and the clarity you and your family rightfully deserve by speaking with an expert about how to best take care of tax planning now, so that it doesn’t become more difficult later on—or even impossible. You cannot purchase homeowners insurance as the house is burning or you cannot purchase auto insurance after an accident. My team is here for this very reason; we offer holistic advisory services tailored specifically to meet the needs of our clients’ unique circumstances. We would love to help answer any questions or concerns relating to taxation in retirement and beyond. If taxes are a concern to you (as I hope they should be), my team is ready and willing to provide you with a complimentary tax analysis. This tax analysis will provide you with clarity as to what the potential “optional taxes” you may incur with regards to just your retirement accounts alone as a starter vs the utilization of some very unique outside- the-box tax planning strategies utilizing sections of the IRS tax code. Feel free to reach out and even schedule a complimentary strategy session with me, by giving my office a call at 888-331- 2821.

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Advisory services offered through Madison Avenue Securities LLC (MAS), a Registered Investment Advisor; MAS and PFS Wealth Management Group are not affiliated companies. MAS does not provide legal and tax advice. Seek competent legal and tax counsel for your specific needs.