Even after jobs were lost, stocks tanked and the cost of education and healthcare rose, experts estimate that the baby boomers will pass along a total of $30 trillion over the next three decades to the millennial generation.
And while baby boomers won’t see as big of a payday as once anticipated — projections have slimmed down from the anticipated $41 trillion to about $11.6 trillion — they will still have a lot to divide up amongst their loved ones.
Read these starter tips before making any decisions on your estate.
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1. Avoid taxes. This year, estates totaling less than $5.25 million are exempt from taxes. If your estate is worth more than that and you want to make sure you are giving the most to your successors tax-free, giving annual gifts while you can watch them enjoy the money will help decrease your total taxable estate. You can give gifts up to $14,000 per person each year, or $28,000 to an individual yearly if you are married. You can also pay for an unlimited amount of someone else’s education and medical bills by paying the institution directly.
2. Consider setting up a trust. Knock aside any stereotypes you may have. If your inheritance will top $100,000, experts say using a trust could be a good move for you. While there are many types of trusts, generally they are good for placing more conditions on how the money is given, like having multiple paydays for successors at ages 25, 35 and 45. For big sums, trusts are also better than bequeathing money in a will because the fund will let the money continue to grow.
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3. Keep the language specific. While your successors grieve, don’t cause undue stress by leaving your will vague, forcing them to squabble over who gets what. If you want to leave your savings to your children, don’t say “to the children.” Outline specific amounts for each child. If you want the money to go to a specific cost, for example like a college fund, make sure that is clear. If you want an asset like a beach house to be shared, write that explicitly as well.
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4. Divvy it up now. It is fairly common to leave your assets to your spouse tax-free and let them figure it out how to divide the estate amongst your successors after you are gone. But this puts more pressure on your spouse. It also increases the taxable amount in your spouse’s estate, which will force whoever ends up getting the assets (likely your children and grandchildren) to pay out more in taxes.
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