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Estate Planning

The Benefits of Estate Planning

As we move through life, we often set aside those tasks that make us consider our inevitable end — wills, trusts, funeral planning. But estate planning ensures that any assets (your “estate”) are easily transferred to your heirs, allowing them to avoid courts and extra costs that could ultimately diminish your estate. Estate planning also means that your heirs are not left to determine who should get or pay what, because you have left a clear plan in place. Here’s a quick look at basic information about estate planning, and why it is so important.

What is an estate?

Your “estate” consists of all property owned by you at the time of your death, such as: 

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks, bonds and other securities
  • Life insurance policies
  • Personal property such as automobiles, jewelry and other personal possessions

Why you need to have a plan?

Estate planning involves making plans for the transfer of your estate — regardless of its value — after your death. Estate planning is something that should be done when you’re in good health and you are free of emotional stress. Your estate plan will ensure that your financial goals are met after you die, passing on your assets as you have assigned them. It can also assign guardians to minor children — a critically important factor for parents. In addition to your will or trust, an estate plan will include an assignment of power of attorney (someone to make decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated) and your advance health care directive. For some, a trust may make more sense than a will; a trust can allow for a more seamless disbursement of assets, especially for those who have a surviving spouse and/or children of any age. 

How to get started

While there are many online options for creating living trusts and wills, it may be smarter to get at least preliminary counsel from an estate attorney or other knowledgeable professional. There are accredited estate planners (who may be attorneys, CPAs, registered investment advisors and more) who are part of national organizations who monitor professional standards. 

For more information, visit:

National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys

The law isn’t always fair, it can’t intuit your wishes, and it shouldn’t be relied on in lieu of a will or living trust. Nor should you assume your loved ones know what your wishes are. Taking the time to put an estate plan into place now, regardless of your age or assets, will save countless hours later for your family or heirs.

The law isn’t always fair, it can’t intuit your wishes, and it shouldn’t be relied on in lieu of a will or living trust. Nor should you assume your loved ones know what your wishes are. Taking the time to put an estate plan into place now, regardless of your age or assets, will save countless hours later for your family or heirs.

 

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