Estate Planning

What does Estate Planning mean?

An estate includes all of the assets owned at any time by a person. So whether you are a millionaire or own one home it is important to consider how your estate will be distributed at the time of your death. Estate planning allows you to control who will receive what assets and how the assets will be distributed. Estate planning will also allow you to limit the court costs, taxes, and legal fees paid.

What does estate planning include?

Estate planning can include a variety of things. For instance, do you have a minor child? Estate planning will allow you to name a guardian for that child. If you have a spouse or other relatives depending on your income, estate planning can also help determine how death benefits are distributed after your death. Estate planning can also provide disability income insurance or allocate your funds according to your values. For instance, do you have a church that has ministered to your family? Maybe you want to allocate a portion of your estate to the church?

Remember, estate planning is necessary for everyone, and it is not a one-time event. Throughout your life your estate plan should be reviewed, especially if you have a change in your marital status or a new birth in your family. Estate planning is important for the rich, but most families need a plan.

What if you fail to plan?

Estate planning allows you to designate who will receive your assets. If you do not make a designation the government will make one for you. For instance, if you become incapacitated and you do have not have a medical directive which has assigned someone to take care of you, the state will make this determination. What if you do not have a will? Your assets will be distributed according to your state's probate laws, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

The good news is estate planning does not have to be complicated or expensive. Some families may only need a will, a life insurance policy, and an assigned power of attorney. Other families with more assets to protect, however, will need to consult with an estate planner for more information.

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