We’re in the middle of the always-somewhat-odd political convention season, in which true believers fire each other up, and most everyone else issues a collective yawn (and more strongly filters their Facebook feed).
I don’t mean to say that I don’t care about politics, or the direction of our country (to the contrary — it is a VERY big part of even my professional life). But only that political conventions are remarkable mostly because of the *lack* of meaningful news they actually generate.
We, on the other hand, hope to be an actually meaningful part of your life.
You see, in posting these strategy notes that I do, one of my goals is that I hope you can tell that we care about what we do around here — and that we care for you. Enough to take the time to be in close contact with you throughout the year, and to open myself up to plenty of email questions, and otherwise.
(Unfortunately, most tax professionals don’t usually offer this kind of access … which, I suppose is good for me and my clients — but not so good for the many other families out there.)
In any case, moving on to the subject of my note for this week, something I frequently see is that many families pay little mind to estate planning because the estate tax threshold is so high ($5.45M for an individual, $10.9M for a couple). But leaving aside the fact that for some farmers and business owners whose inventory and supplies can surprisingly affect this number, this is actually a short-sighted mistake. Here’s what I mean…
Estate & Tax Planning For California Families
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”- Robert Byrne
It’s an all-too-common misconception that smart estate planning is all about avoiding the estate tax.
And, if that were the case, only the very wealthy would be affected by it — since only those with estates carrying over $5.45M in value aren’t exempt.
You may fall into that category, but even if you DON’T (and also if you do), you should be considering the following questions as a family. You see, regardless of whatever funds will or will not be affected by this exemption, you should focus your attention on what you are really trying to accomplish with how you pass along your assets.
And this is the best question to ask:
What are your values and goals? I.e., “How do you want your success to affect your children and grandchildren?”
Every family has a different answer to that question, and it’s an extremely important — foundational — component of how we work with our client families, even in tax planning and preparation.
You see, some planning only takes “money” into consideration. And while that’s certainly an important item to consider, the money is really only there to create a specific destiny, and a style-of-life that you’d want to see carried into successive generations.
And it doesn’t require a lot of “it” [money] for you to be able to pass along your most precious values.
I often urge my clients and friends to actually take the time to consider this question, because it may seem obvious on its face … but your answers (upon a longer consideration) will often surprise you.
And we’re here to provide any kind of support along the way which you might require. We’re pretty practiced in helping families cut through the clutter of financial statements — and finding the hidden gems of core values and relationships.
And THOSE are the only things which really do last forever.
Let’s talk more, if you want to explore these issues. Because regardless of estate tax thresholds and legislations, walking without the right kind of plan can create an even worse mess when the time comes — and I’m not referring to anything about money.
If we can’t help you directly, we’ll put you in touch with the right people who can.
I’m personally dedicated to the success of your family–and to your dreams. Can other tax professionals say that?
Jim and Mike Ornelas
Ornelas & Associates