There are two important phases: accumulation & distribution. During the accumulation phase, it is important to maximize the available tax incentives. During the distribution phase, it is important to consider potential tax consequences and/or Medicare premiums.
Various federal and State taxes may be applicable at death. In addition, there can be non-tax considerations for developing an Estate plan including the potential loss of government benefits by an heir; the need for guardianship provisions; the desire to protect a spouse and the goal of protecting an inheritance from creditor claims.