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Do You Need Estate Planning

Updated on March 14, 2013

Do You Need Estate Planning?

Some people think estate planning is only needed by the wealthy, but that really isn’t true.  Estate planning not only lets you state how you want to distribute your assets, it also allows you to declare how you want your health care to be handled, should you ever be unable to make those decisions.  It lets you state what funeral arrangements you desire or who you want to care for your minor children.  Estate planning could be called peace of mind planning, because it allows you to feel confident that you have done everything possible to see that things will be handled according to your requests.  Although it is not something anyone looks forward to doing, it is something nearly everyone should do.

The Will is Only the First Step

Writing a will is a major step in estate planning. The will covers the distribution of your property and assets, any bequeaths you may decide to make and designates a guardian for your minor children. You will want to name an executor of your estate in your will. The executor will oversee the property and administrative duties of your estate.

You may also want to consider creating a living trust when you are planning your estate. A living, or revocable, trust allows you may make it possible for your heirs to avoid some of the hassles of probate court after your death. You place your property and assets in the trust and manage it yourself or choose someone with financial expertise to handle it for you. It also allows you to name someone to control the trust if you should become incapacitated. You can even discover ways for a living trust to protect your heirs from estate taxes or legal challenges.

You will also want a durable power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows you to assign someone to handle your legal affairs if you should become disabled. It gives your agent permission to manage your real estate, conduct financial transactions in your name and make other legal decisions for you

A healthcare power of attorney is also an important document to prepare. This will allow your appointee to make important decisions about your healthcare if you are unable to do so. This person is often a spouse or family member. Regardless of the relationship, you should choose this person carefully and talk to them about your desires if major healthcare decisions must be made on your behalf.

Estate Planning : Definition of a Trust

Should you get Help Planning Your Estate

It is possible for you to do the majority of your estate planning.  You, of course, are the only one who can decide how you want to manage your affairs.  Choosing to take advantage of a competent attorney familiar with estate planning, however, is always a wise choice.  It will save you hours of time and research and you will be assured that all the forms are legal and recorded properly.  They will be able to inform you of the very best ways to protect your family and see that your last wishes are honored. 

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