An Estate Planning Guide for Those Who are Self-Employed

Next you must realize that taxes are paid quarterly. So, make sure you have a plan in place to keep track of everything you are spending, and where it is all going. Make sure a portion of that is rolled over into that retirement as well. Keep those receipts for at least five years. More, if you are able. It's always best to be prepared for the worst; and hope for the best.

Now that you have those basics in place it's time to begin the important part of estate planning, the legality of what goes where should you die. The rest of this guide to estate planning for the self-employed will cover that.

Remember, the government gets everything should you fail to assign an heir. Always, be prepared and this is even more important if you have children. You must have a will in place and you must assign a person to be in charge of that will. This is the person that handles all of the details after your death. So pick a person that is both responsible, and honest. Name your guardians for those children you have. I cannot stress this enough. Just telling a person is not going to be held up in court after your death. Your children would be put into the foster care system until it is resolved generally. You do not want that. So, have a legal guardian named and get everything notarized to make it legal. Buy a Will program to get all of the forms required to handle the process. File them all, and make sure after notarizing them; you make triplicate copies. Give one to the person that handles the estate after you are gone, one to the person that is beneficiary or guardian if it is regarding a minor child/children. Also give one to a safety deposit box. That way, if things get stolen, or lost, or destroyed in a fire; you have a copy for yourself. You can never be too safe.

Finally, in this guide to estate planning for the self-employed, we will cover the value of your assets. Remember that your business has a value. There is a really good formula for figuring this out. Go to: to get the most excellent CD sent to you that will tell you everything about figuring the value of your assets. This is not only important at tax time; but in estate planning for the self-employed as well. Plan, save; and document everything to get the process well ordered. Most of all pat yourself on the back for handling this all yourself. You've earned it.

Guide to Estate Planning for the Self-Employed

As an opera singer and freelance writer, I know self-employed. Everything from health insurance to paying taxes is a little more complicated for those of us who choose to work for ourselves. One trend I've noticed among many of my self-employed friends is that they haven't given much thought to retirement savings, life insurance or estate planning. Unfortunately, without employer-sponsored plans in place to help us, we need to be even more diligent in making sure our affairs are in order.

Life Insurance

Luckily life insurance isn't too hard to get when you're young, but it can become more difficult as you age. Most people have at least minimal coverage through their employer, but self-employed people don't have that luxury. If you're self-employed and have dependents (or plan to have dependents sometime in the future), go get yourself a term-life policy while you're young. The premiums won't be expensive and your loved ones will be taken care of in the event of your untimely demise.

Retirement Savings

If you don't save some money throughout your working life, you won't have an estate to plan. This is one of the biggest problems self-employed people face, after finding health insurance. Traditionally employed people generally have access to a company-sponsored 401k, which allows them to set thousands of tax-deferred dollars aside every year. However, what many self-employed people don't know is that we too can have 401k plans - we just have to set them up ourselves. Self-employed or Solo 401ks are gaining popularity and they are an excellent retirement planning tool for freelancers. We can also take advantage of Roth or Traditional IRAs, but Solo 401ks allow us to save much more.

Estate Planning

If you're a freelancer like I am, estate planning is no different for you than it is for someone with traditional employment. Estate planning needs for everyone include a will, insurance beneficiaries, a healthcare proxy or living will, and perhaps a trust depending on the size of the estate. However, estate planning is a much more complicated matter for small business owners. A small business owner may want to sell their business before their death, pass it along to their children or heirs, or own the business jointly with someone who will likely survive them. A valuation of the business may be required. It is advisable for small business owners to consult with their lawyers, accountants and other business and estate planning specialists to determine what the best course of action will be in their case.

While it can be rewarding, self-employment presents special challenges when it comes to taking care of family and building an estate. However, estate planning for self-employed people shouldn't have to be difficult. Estate planning for the self-employed may be a little complex, but with the proper tools, forethought and guidance, it can be done in a way that benefits both the family and the family business.