As you go about planning your estate to distribute to loved ones in Florida and elsewhere, you should do them (and yourself) a favor by taking steps to lower estate tax. You want your children, friends and family to get every penny coming to them, not the government.

To help you in this endeavor, U.S. News & World Report explores how to sidestep unnecessary estate taxes. Keep these suggestions in mind as you finalize your estate.

Do not wait to distribute your wealth

You do not have to wait until you pass before you start distributing your estate. The smaller your estate when you pass, the less tax you have to pay. Learn how much you can distribute to beneficiaries every year before incurring tax, which includes charitable donations.

Research how much of your estate is vulnerable to tax

Estate tax is not just for the rich. Usually, it is businesses and real estate property that incur the biggest estate tax. Talk with an accountant about which of your assets is most likely to incur the tax, and do what you can to reduce that tax.

Consider using exemptions

The U.S. government allows for a lifetime estate tax exemption for a specific amount. Look into using that exemption now rather than after you pass. Usually, this option makes the most sense when it comes to appreciating assets.

Invest in extra life insurance

If you can afford to do so, boost your life insurance coverage. This proves ideal for those unable to avoid high estate tax. Your policy can absorb the cost, rather than pass the tax on to beneficiaries

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.