Do you need an estate plan? The short answer is yes. If you own property, whether it’s a house, car, jewelry, or collectible, have bank accounts, investments or a retirement plan account, you need to direct how and to whom your property will be distributed after your death. And even if you already have an estate plan, you may be surprised to learn that it is out of date. Changes in your family– the birth of a child or grandchild, death of a spouse or close relative or friend, marriages or divorces in your family all necessitate revisiting your estate plan.

Moving to another state, buying or selling a business and of course, retiring, are reasons to revise your estate plan, too. Last but not least, tax laws may have changed unbeknownst to you. All the reasons you need to have us create the best plan to preserve your family’s wealth.

Anyone who owns property, whether a home, a car, a bank account, investments, business interests, a retirement plan account, collectibles, personal belongings, whatever, needs an estate plan. An estate plan allows you to direct how and to whom your property will be distributed after you are gone.

If you have no estate plan at all, your property could be distributed according to your state’s intestacy laws without regard to family needs or your desires.

The best plan starts with us. Estate planning is an ongoing process. If you’re young and single, an estate plan may consist of nothing more than a will. If you’re a couple just starting out, you might have wills and own a modest home and have joint bank accounts. Add children, and naming a guardian and arranging to provide for them and your spouse in case of unexpected death or incapacity become greater concerns. And, once you start to realize your financial goals, asset preservation and tax avoidance become key.

Although the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 phases out the estate tax, with full repeal by 2010, your estate could still be subject to estate tax after you are gone. And, the repeal of the estate tax may only be in effect for a single year, as the law’s changes will expire after 2010 unless Congress takes further action. So tax planning remains an extremely important part of estate planning.

Effective estate planning requires several steps, beginning with an evaluation of your current situation, followed by setting goals, developing the best possible plan and then implementing and monitoring that plan. Most people underestimate their estates. Use the chart below to estimate your gross estate value.

No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, the financial planning experts at Thaney & Associates CPAs, P.C. can help you create a strategy that will protect all you’ve built, or will build, to ensure that your family’s future is assured long after you are gone.