Dow Jones-Irwin Guide to Property Ownership Essay - Critical Essays

Dow Jones-Irwin Guide to Property Ownership

Financial planning, tax planning, and estate planning are becoming more intricate and complicated all the time. Schulman, an attorney who specializes in trust, probate, financial planning, and taxes, points out many of the questions one must consider in order to minimize estate taxes. A reasonable degree of comfort, income, and wealth is presumed for those needing this advice.

The definition of property used, from BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY, is all-encompassing. In addition to tangible assets, such as real estate or personal goods, it includes intangibles such as securities, as well as some less frequently considered forms of property such as rights in a pension, a professional degree, or a license to a well-paying occupation.

The book is arranged in life-cycle stages: single persons, marriage, divorce, subsequent marriages, parents and their adult children, owning a business, and other special circumstances. Each chapter highlights some of the major questions encountered at a given stage, as well as the relative advantages and disadvantages of some of the common solutions. These include joint tenancy, tenancy-in-common, trusts of several kinds, other property agreements, and differing forms of business incorporation.

No pat answers are provided. Rather, Schulman’s intent is to point out the appropriate questions when seeking specific advice. In this she succeeds admirably. Because state law varies considerably from one jurisdiction to another, considerations of state law and taxes are discussed only minimally. Instead, an appendix summarizes the provisions of law in each state on points frequently raised. The reader who wishes to implement any of the suggestions offered will need additional, specific advice from a qualified professional.

A good summary of the major questions which must be asked in estate planning is provided here; the reader must provide the answers based on specific circumstances.