- Each state has laws (the laws of intestate succession) that “write your estate plan for you” if you don’t have one of your own. In general, those laws provide for spouses and/or children in fixed amounts. The laws states write for you may require that so much passes to children (rather than a spouse) that estate tax is due when the first spouse dies – which could have been avoided with a proper estate plan in place. The advantage of generation-skipping tax exemptions are wasted if assets pass under state law. The laws that states write for you also, generally, require that children receive assets outright at age 18 – typically a much younger age than people prefer.
- Writing your own estate plan avoids these pitfalls. Tax savings can be maximized. The control that children gain over their share of assets can be postponed until they are ready to handle it. More importantly, you can decide who inherits what when you pass.
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