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Life, Death & Taxes

There are two things certain in this life: Death and taxes. Those simple words truly define our lives. Here at Willis & Jurasek, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist you with taxes and the effects of a death (i.e. estate planning, estate tax returns, gifting etc.) Did you know that no matter your net worth it is important to have a basic estate plan in place? Such a plan ensures that your family and financial goals are met after you die.

An estate plan can consist of several elements. Most likely yours should include a Will, Power of Attorney, Living Will or Health Care Proxy and maybe a Trust. Pulling together all of these legal documents and the information required to complete them can be daunting. Rest assured we can help you every step of the way. When putting together this plan you must be mindful of both Federal and State laws governing estates in addition to the tax impact of your plan. That’s where we come in. We currently have several clients that we assist with their estate planning, whether it is coordinating with the attorney drafting the legal documents, attending meetings with our clients, acting as the trustee(s) or simply talking through with you what we think may work best for you based on our experience.

At the most basic level everybody needs a will. This is a framework to tell the world exactly where you want your assets distributed when you die. You can also name guardians for your children too. Dying without a will, aka “intestate”, can be a long and costly process to your heirs and leaves you no say as to whom gets your assets.

I know what you are thinking…”I don’t need a trust because those are just for the wealthy.” Well, I encourage you to reconsider. Trusts are a legal means of letting you put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death. Don’t want your 19 year old to inherit everything at once? Provisions in a trust can protect that from happening. Trusts also allow you to distribute assets to your heirs without the cost, delay and publicity of probate court, which administers wills.

With all the recent activity regarding the uncertainty of the tax laws, it was welcomed when the lawmakers finalized the estate tax exemptions. The estate tax exemption is now set permanently at $5 million (indexed for inflation). This means that in 2014 estates under $5.34 million are exempt from the tax and estates over that amount are taxed up to a top rate of 40%.

I could go on and on and on about estate planning, but also don’t forget about gifting! If you ever want to discuss estate planning, gifting, life, death, taxes, etc. give me a call at 517-788-8660 or send me an email at and we can set up a time for us to discuss it all either at our office, your office or over lunch.