Everyone Should Have an Estate Plan

Everyone Should Have an Estate Plan

Core Facts

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No matter your personal situation, married or single, older generation approaching retirement or younger generation starting out on a career, an estate plan is something that can benefit everyone. 

This document will greatly help your family by giving them direction and letting them know your wishes. If you do not have a plan, chances are you could leave a mess behind for family and friends to clean up, which is not how you want to be remembered.

Despite the obvious benefits, over half of American adults do not have a will or other estate plan in place. Among minorities, the numbers are higher than in the general population: 68% of African American adults and 74% of Hispanic adults do not have one. 

Regardless of age or any other factor, everyone has an estate -- even the young child with a bank account in his name that his grandparents set up or the coming-of-age youngster who received a diamond necklace as a birthday gift.

If you own something of value that you would like to pass on to someone else upon your death, you have an estate. Hence, you should have an estate plan. If you don’t, the state has a plan if you don't get around to writing a will or designing a plan of your own.

An estate plan entails the accumulation, conservation, and distribution of assets. A good plan will enhance and maintain the financial security of individuals and their families.


Trusts involve the transfer of your property to an individual or corporate trustee who manages the assets within the trust's control for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.


A will is a personal declaration of your wishes regarding the passing on of ownership of your property at death. Not just real estate property, but everything that you own. Everybody should have a will.

Because a will does not become legally enforceable until your death, it may be changed at any time prior to that event. A properly drafted will contains instructions for your personal representative, the executor. The executor is responsible for administering your estate.

A will offers many advantages, enabling you to control, to a large extent, what happens after you're gone.

With a will you can choose the executor, designate a guardian for minor children or others unable to fully care for themselves, distribute your property to beneficiaries you choose, be generous to charity at death, minimize estate tax, and have a sense of peace of mind, knowing that your assets will be distributed as you wish. 

Gift Tax

Gifts are gratuitous transfers you make during your lifetime. 

For 2017, the estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million per individual, up from $5.45 million in 2016. That means an individual can leave $5.49 million to heirs and pay no federal estate or gift tax. A married couple will be able to shield just shy of $11 million ($10.98 million) from federal estate and gift taxes. The annual gift exclusion remains at $14,000 for 2017. 

The recipients don't have to be related to you. Some people have referred to an annual exclusion gifting program as "the poor man's estate plan" because it effectively reduces the value of your estate without any interference from Uncle Sam.




Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. 

Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable-- we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

David Lerner Associates does not provide tax or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. Member FINRA & SIPC


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Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held broker/dealer with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates Call 516-921-4200 Visit our website: www.davidlerner.com

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Jake Mendlinger
Account Manager
516.829.8374 X 232

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