Estate planning with respect to federal estate taxes is fairly easy for most people: the person's estate at death has to be larger than $5.43 million in gross value to be subject to federal tax. Some states, however, collect an inheritance or other type of death tax. Texas does not have an inheritance or other death tax, making estate planning for taxes a fairly easy tax for the average Texas resident.
The current federal and state rules may change in the future, so that it can't be said that the current situation will last. The best thing to do is obtain a consultation with an estate planning attorney to determine whether your situation will involve an actual estate tax based on changes in the law. The relief in death taxes has also created a change in focus for estate planning specialists.
Asset protection is a prominent subject of estate planning. With the federal tax out of the way for the time being, and with no death tax in Texas, other areas of potential economic loss are focused on by estate planners. There is still a need to look at income taxes and capital gains taxes. The claims of creditors must be looked at.
Gift taxes and generation-skipping taxes must be factored in to an estate planning strategy. It's also necessary to determine how existing assets will be allocated in retirement and after death to fit the needs of the person. The details regarding when, how and why to allocate and distribute assets are part of the comprehensive estate plan.
The integration of living and testamentary trusts into the grand plan will be undertaken for asset maximization and to fulfill the wishes of the estate owner. Thus, a Texas resident or married couple who have assets will be best assured of maximum protection by preparing an estate plan. This requires the assistance and guidance of an estate planning attorney, and where appropriate a financial planning specialist may be added for a more comprehensive team effort.
Source: investors.com, "Estate Planning For 2015: How To Protect Assets From Taxes", Margaret Price, Jan. 2, 2015