Nontax Reasons For Estate Planning

Nontax Reasons For Estate Planning

By Robert J. Saalfeld

As the death tax exclusion increases, fewer individuals will be impacted by death tax. The death tax could even be repealed. Whether or not there is a death tax, estate planning is still important. The most effective planning results when you consider what you want to happen to your assets assuming there is no death tax, and then evaluate tax effective strategies to accomplish your goals. Thus, even if there is no death tax, the most important issue – what you want to happen to your assets – still needs to be addressed.

There are many nontax considerations in an effective estate plan. Below are ten nontax issues to consider:

  1. Who do I want to receive my assets?
  2. Does my plan have a revocable living trust that is fully funded so I can avoid probate on death, maintain privacy by not having to publicly disclose assets and values, and avoid a conservatorship in event of incapacity?
  3. Should I direct a beneficiary’s share to be managed in a trust to protect against immaturity, divorce, creditors, or a drug, alcohol, or gambling problem?
  4. Have I addressed philanthropic goals?
  5. Do I have the correct beneficiary designations for my life insurance and retirement plans?
  6. Do I have a business succession plan for my business?
  7. Have I structured my assets to increase any need for asset protection?
  8. Do I have the proper trustees named?
  9. Do I have the proper guardians named?
  10. Does my personal representative or trustee know where my important papers are and is everything organized in a sensible manner for them?

As can be seen, estate planning is more than avoiding estate taxes. A good plan addresses your goals for the management, preservation, and transmission of assets whether or not there is an estate tax.


  1. Do you feel comfortable about your financial situation? Would a financial planner be helpful?
  2. Do you have an estate plan?
  3. Who should handle your finances if you become ill?
  4. In the event you become seriously ill, what level of care and intervention would you like?
  5. Do you have enough health insurance?
  6. Do you feel your doctor is well-informed about the issues common to older patients?
  7. Can we help you make your home more comfortable?
  8. Are you feeling secure about driving?
  9. Can you share your thoughts about your funeral?
  10. Can you compile a list of all your important information?