Where Do You Do Your Shopping? Part 49

Thomas M. Boles, 33°, Grand Cross
Director of Development
1761 East Woodcrest Avenue
La Habra, California 90631–3260
Tel 562–691–4227 
Fax 562–691–5327

The primary goal of estate planning is to assure the transfer of your property to the beneficiaries of your choice at the smallest possible financial and emotional cost.

For the last few months, I have been reminding you about various trusts and how they work. This month, I thought it very important to remind you of the importance of Estate Planning.

Estate Planning is for everyone. Even though many people think their estates are too small to be taxed. This is far less true than is generally supposed.

Even small estates can be taxed, sometimes heavily. Also, remember the amount of tax imposed on the transfer of assets at death is a separate issue from planning for the disposition of those assets.

In the summer 1997, Congress voted to gradually increase the amount in an estate that is not taxed by the federal government from $600,000 to $1 million by the year 2006. But this hardly means that people need not worry about taxes or, worse, about estate planning.

In 1981, when Congress raised the estate limit for taxation, many people thought that because they did not have estates of $600,000 or more, they would face no taxation. But think of this: a person with a $300,000 estate in 1981 could have, if only part of it were invested in the stock market, an estate of over $1 million today!

People tend to be wealthier than they think. Add up everything—your home, stock portfolio, tangible personal property, life insurance policies you own or have owned during the last three years, retirement plan assets, business interests, and much, much more—and you find yourself with enough assets to qualify for a tax on the right to transfer your assets at death. Reducing taxes is, of course, an important component of estate planning. But the process of planning involves much more than finding tax-saving strategies.

Estate planning is the highly personal process of deciding how your assets will be distributed at death. Who will receive the home? The car? The stocks? The jewelry? Who will take care of the children if they are not yet of legal age? Do you have relatives, even children, who should not receive assets? Are there charitable organizations like the Scottish Rite Foundation you wish to benefit from your estate?

The primary goal of estate planning is to assure the transfer of your property to the beneficiaries of your choice at the smallest possible financial and emotional cost. And your desire to provide for those you care about will never change, no matter what your tax bracket. Estate planning truly is for everyone.

No "ad" this month, but this fact: people owe it to themselves to become a success. After that, they owe it to the IRS. Planning your estate is a lot better! 

Please Note: This information is distributed with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expertise is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. From: A Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers.

Thomas M. Boles

has worked extensively in fundraising for children’s programs throughout our Fraternity. For more information see coupon previous page, or call Tom at 562–691–4227 (Fax 562–691–5327) or the Scottish Rite Foundation, S.J., USA, at 202–232–3579, ext. 122.