Estate planning can be very straightforward and simple, or it can be multifaceted and complex. How you would like to proceed is a personal choice. With this in mind, let’s look at legacy planning and how you can preserve your legacy.
Your legacy is the influence that is felt even after you are gone. Clearly, being in a position to leave behind a financial underpinning to your loved ones can be part of the plan.
If you have been very successful financially throughout your life, you may be in a position to do some incredible things for family members and perhaps those yet unborn. However, when you are thinking about the preservation of your legacy you should be firmly aware of the potential impact of the federal estate tax.
This post is being written in November of 2013. At the present time the amount of the federal estate tax credit or exclusion is $5.25 million. In 2014 this figure is going up to $5.34 million.
This is the amount that you can pass along to your heirs before the estate tax becomes a factor. The maximum rate of the estate tax is 40 percent.
The prospect of losing 40 percent of what you have earned simply because it is being passed on to the next generation is not a very pleasant one. Fortunately, there are wealth preservation strategies that can be implemented to mitigate your estate tax exposure.
If you are in possession of assets that exceed the amount of the credit or exclusion, you should certainly discuss wealth preservation strategies with a licensed estate planning attorney.
Giving to charitable causes can also be a way to preserve your legacy. There are various different ways that you can arrange for your name to be attached to philanthropic acts.
In addition to the personal rewards that you gain, there can be tax advantages realized through measured acts of charitable giving.
Passing along cherished family heirlooms to the right people can also be a way to preserve your legacy and that of ancestors that have come before you.
Another way to preserve your legacy would be to leave behind autobiographical notes. Those with literary inclinations could write a complete autobiography. Short of this you could share some of your formative personal experiences.
Another possibility would be the creation of something called an ethical will. This type of will is not legally binding, and it has nothing to do with money.
With an ethical will you write down your moral and spiritual values for the benefit of those that you will be leaving behind. These “rules to live by” can be an invaluable addition to your estate plan.