One factor that people who own a business have to consider is the value of their estate when they pass away. Estate taxes can wipe out a good portion of what the heirs are supposed to get. There are options that you can use to reduce the possible estate taxes that are going to come. Here are some points to consider:
You can give gifts to your children and grandchildren. Currently, you can give a person $12,000 in a year without them having to pay the estate tax. Since the limit is per person giving and per person receiving, you and your spouse could each give the same individual a gift of $12,000 so the person receives a total of $24,000 that isn't subjected to a gift tax and that pays down the estate at the same time.
Using a family limited partnership is another option. This allows you to transfer ownership of your family-owned business to the family members in the next generation. It may also help you protect the assets of the family from creditors. Other benefits may also exist, so try to find out how this might help you.
Another option is charitable giving. While this won't directly benefit your heirs, it can reduce the estate tax they will have to pay. It can also help a cause that you hold close to your heart.
You have to think about how each estate planning decision you make will affect your family members and others included in the plan. Don't think only about what you are giving them, consider how they might be affected by taxes and creditor claims.