What is an Estate Planner?

Malcolm Tatum

Estate planners are professionals who assist in ordering all assets associated with the estate of an individual so that beneficiaries of the estate realize the most benefit from the inheritance. Often, this includes arranging the affairs of the estate in a manner that helps to legally minimize taxes due while providing a legacy for loved ones. There are several key issues that an estate planner will address in order to create the most effective estate plan and still comply with the wishes of the benefactor.

One of the first tasks that any estate planner will address is a thorough evaluation of the assets currently in place.
One of the first tasks that any estate planner will address is a thorough evaluation of the assets currently in place.

One of the first tasks that any estate planner will address is a thorough evaluation of the assets currently in place. The goal is essentially to understand everything that is currently included in the estate and in what form each asset currently exists. This provides the estate planner with a point of origin to begin shaping the structure of the estate in ways that will ultimately be in the best interests of the benefactor and all the beneficiaries who inherit some portion of the estate.

Estate planners might be able to help value personal property that someone intends on leaving for relatives.
Estate planners might be able to help value personal property that someone intends on leaving for relatives.

After assessing the current status of the estate, an estate planner will usually confer with the benefactor to determine what his or her goals are, in terms of how the assets are to be shared among the beneficiaries. Knowing what the benefactor wants to provide for loved ones in terms of an inheritance can help the estate planner make constructive suggestions for how to go about accomplishing those goals. For example, if the benefactor wishes to create a legacy that provides some type of ongoing financial support to children of the benefactor, the estate planner may suggest the creation of a family corporation. This type of estate planning creates a structure that manages property and investments in a manner that ensures a steady monthly or annual income for everyone named as a beneficiary.

Estate planners can give advice on how to transfer property ownership following a person's death.
Estate planners can give advice on how to transfer property ownership following a person's death.

One of the main goals of any estate planner is to advise clients on ways to structure the estate so that all tax laws are complied with, but that still keep the taxation to a minimum. Doing so helps to place more of the available assets in the hands of the beneficiaries and thus make it easier for the goals of the benefactor to be realized. From this perspective, the estate planner must be conversant with applicable tax laws and how they affect the assets that currently make up the estate. The estate planner can assist the benefactor in converting some assets into other forms that are subject to fewer taxes as part of the overall planning strategy.

Estate planners help individuals determine how their assets will be disbursed upon their death or in specific circumstances.
Estate planners help individuals determine how their assets will be disbursed upon their death or in specific circumstances.
Estate planners can help a person decide how assets are to be divided upon their death.
Estate planners can help a person decide how assets are to be divided upon their death.

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