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The Business Forum Journal


Pass Along Your Wealth Rather Than a Tax Burden

When Pablo Picasso died in 1973 he left an estate worth $300 million, but no will specifying how it was to be distributed.  The ensuing family dispute lasted four years and consumed 10% of the fortune — and it all could have been avoided with some simple estate planning.

A Better Alternative
Although you may not want to think about what will happen after you are gone, an estate plan is a way to help make sure that your assets are distributed to your intended heirs — family members, friends, or even charitable institutions — according to your instructions.

A well-crafted plan will not only help eliminate confusion for your heirs, it can also help protect them — and you — from estate tax burdens, so that your assets are transferred at the lowest possible cost.

A sound estate plan may include several of the following elements:

  • A professionally drafted will outlines how your property will be distributed after your death. It can also address issues such as the future care of minor children and can help limit probate costs. A living will spells out your wishes for your own health care.

  • A trust can provide security for you and your beneficiaries, and it may help protect assets from taxes. With a living trust, for example, you maintain control of your assets while benefiting from a tax shelter during your lifetime. Upon death, the remaining assets can be managed by the trustee and distributed to your beneficiaries according to terms you set.

  • Insurance can help your heirs meet survivor and estate-settlement expenses. The appropriate type and level of insurance will vary according to your personal circumstances.

  • Qualified executors and trustees can help ensure that your wishes are carried out. You may choose an individual, such as an attorney or accountant, or an entity that has expertise in taxation, estate law, or money management.

Now is the Time
An estate plan may help to preserve the wealth you have worked so hard to build. Do not put off completing an essential step in the financial planning process that can benefit you as well as your heirs.  Speak to a qualified legal professional about the role he or she can play in creating a flexible plan to address your unique needs.

Brian M. Clay is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and the President of Clay, Malek & Northam Wealth Management in Southern California; whose clients include both companies and individuals.  He has been recognized for numerous honors and accomplishments including being named to the Consumer Research Council of America's "Best Financial Planner" list.  Brian's professional registrations include the Series 6, 7, 24, 63, 66 held with LPL Financial, and CA Life & Health Insurance.  He also holds the Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC) and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designations. The CFP® designation is considered by most to be the highest certification in the industry.  To be recognized as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, individuals must meet rigorous experience and ethical requirements, complete financial planning coursework, and pass a certification examination covering the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning.  They must also meet ongoing continuing education requirements and uphold the CFP® Board Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Brian is an LPL Registered Principal.  Securities and Financial Planning Services offered through LPL Financial, A Registered Investment Advisor – Member FINRA/SIPC.  For a list of states in which he is licensed to do business, please visit  Brian holds a Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

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