BALANCING ESTATE ISSUES

Physician's Money Digest, July31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 14

Caution:

Scared of estate taxes? You may bebetter off worrying about the legalcosts your heirs will incur. With higherestate tax exemption amounts,your estate may not even be taxable,but legal costs can apply to even thesmallest estate and can drain anywherefrom 3% to 5% of its assets.You can cut down on legal fees,which are usually figured on assetsthat must go through probate court,by maximizing those assets that willavoid probate. That includes lifeinsurance payoffs, money in retirementaccounts, and assets held in livingtrusts, which go directly to thedesignated beneficiaries. State probate procedures vary; theprocess in your state may be so simple,your heirs may not need alawyer. In that case, setting up a livingtrust would not be cost-effective.