In preparing and revising estate plans, a lot of time and effort is concentrated on tax planning. Don't get me wrong. Tax planning, both income, estate, and gift tax planning, is an important element for any estate plan. But, it is critical that a lot of other important issues not be left out of or minimized in the estate planning conversation.
I was reminded of this recently in reading a newsletter from the Sterns Financial Group [Greensboro/Chapel Hill: www.stearnsfinancial.com]. In a Q&A part of the newsletter, someone posed a question about what sort of tax planning should be done in light of the various estate and income tax proposals now being discussed in Congress. After answering the question about the pros and cons of making changes given the fluid nature of the proposals being discussed, I thought Sterns made an even more important point:
"While some are considering estate techniques for tax savings, most are making other updates to their estate plans, including guardians for young children, distributions outright vs in trust, planning for the Secure Act with large retirement plans, trustee selection, considerations for children with special needs, updates to health care and general power of attorney documents, charitable bequests and other shifts that are part of good estate planning but, for the most part, having little to do with tax planning."
Kudos to the Sterns folks for not letting us forget that tax planning is not the only important element in estate planning.