Estate planning is the process by which an individual or family arranges the transfer of assets in anticipation of death. An estate plan aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for the intended beneficiaries and flexibility for the individual prior to death. A major concern for drafters of estate plans is federal and state tax law.
An estate is the total property, real and personal, owned by an individual prior to distribution through a trust or will. Real property is real estate, and personal property includes everything else (cars, household items, bank accounts, etc.). Estate planning distributes the real and personal property to an individual's heirs.
Some of the laws pertaining to estate planning will change by the end of 2010 unless congress makes these temporary changes permanent.