Giving your money away when you die: 10 questions to ask
By Jonathan Clements
Get a will, investigate charities and more
Haven't given much thought to estate planning and charitable giving? Here are 10 questions to jumpstart your thinking:
1. Can you afford to give away money (http://www.humbledollar.com/money-guide/now-or-later/) now? You shouldn't gift large sums to your children or charity unless you're confident you have enough for your own retirement. There's no limit on gifts to charity, though your annual tax deduction may be capped. For gifts to family members, you might take advantage of the annual gift-tax exclusion, currently $14,000.
2. Do you have the right beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts and life insurance? Your individual retirement account and employer's retirement plan might hold the bulk of your savings, so it's crucial these accounts pass to the right folks (http://www.humbledollar.com/money-guide/beneficiary-designations/).
3. At the end of your life, who do you want to make medical decisions on your behalf and how far would you like doctors to go in attempting to prolong your life? You should codify these wishes (http://www.humbledollar.com/money-guide/durable-powers-of-attorney/) in a health care power of attorney and living will.
4. Do you have a will (http://www.humbledollar.com/2017/10/giving-10-questions-ask/)? According to a 2016 Gallup survey, just 44% of U.S. adults have one.
5. Are you worrying unnecessarily about federal estate taxes? Thanks to today's $5.49 million estate tax exclusion, IRS statistics suggest just one out of every 530 deaths will likely trigger federal estate taxes (http://www.humbledollar.com/money-guide/federal-estate-taxes/). Indeed, you should review your estate plan if it was designed to avoid federal estate taxes--but was drawn up before the sharp increase in the federal estate tax exclusion since 2001, when the exclusion stood at just $675,000.