When you are making plans for dividing your estate after you pass away, you likely want to make the dealing with your estate as easy as possible for the people you leave behind. One way to do this is to have an estate plan that spells out your wishes. With the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, people have been placing the importance of estate planning in the limelight. While it seems as though many people are focusing on what he could have done to avoid estate taxes, that isn't necessarily the most important goal of an estate plan.
The current estate tax exemption amount is just over $5 million. That means that if your estate isn't worth more than that amount, your loved ones likely won't have to worry about paying an estate tax. This leaves you free to focus on making sure that your estate plan takes the needs of your family into account.
One main area for you to consider is if you have children from a previous marriage. It is important that you consider the children when you make an estate plan, because you might decide to leave part of your estate to them instead of leaving your entire estate to your current wife.
Making sure that your estate plan is current is vital for anyone. If you have an estate plan already, review it on a regular basis to make sure that it meets your family's current situation. If you haven't made an estate plan yet, advice from an experienced Michigan estate planning professional can help you determine how to set up your estate.
Source: Observer & Eccentric, "Draft an estate plan to protect your family" Rick Bloom, Mar. 01, 2014