Estate planning offers tools to establish and maintain effective control over cash, investments and real estate assets during a person's lifetime and upon death. While wills and beneficiary designations work well to ensure that an estate plan meets the unique needs of the individual establishing the plan, each has its limits.
If you've heard of trust funds but don't know what they are or how they work, you're not alone. Many people know just one key fact about trust funds: they're set up by the ultra-wealthy as a way to protect passing on significant sums of money to family, friends or entities (charities, for example) after they pass away.
The estate tax in the United States is a tax on your right to transfer property to other individuals upon your death, according to the IRS. In other words, when you die, the U.S. government might be entitled to a portion of your assets before the remainder can be passed to your heirs. Not all inherited assets are subject to the estate tax. In fact, the U.S. estate tax only affects the wealthiest households.