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Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

By Heather Brown
July 24, 2015

Eliminating the word ‘if’ and replacing it with ‘when’ is the first step to acknowledging that we all have an estate and that the inevitable is going to happen.  So avoiding ‘estate planning’ can be a harmful decision when your time comes.  And believe it or not, it won’t affect you a bit!  It will affect those you love.

The fact is this:  Everyone has an estate, and that estate consists of your home, bank accounts, cars, personal possessions and so forth.  An estate is the true meaning of ‘you can’t take it with you.’  So, to make very sure that your requests are carried out on whom you want to receive something very special of yours, you must take very careful precautions which include taxes, court courts and when and where your loved one are able to declare that property.

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear.  Since none of us have been stamped with an expiration date, we have to get rid of the notion that estate planning is only for retired people.  Absolutely not true.  If there’s no expiration date, there is such a thing as an accident.  So plan!

Some initial steps to take in preparation are as follows:

  • Start with a will, but keep in mind that a will doesn’t in any way prevent probate. Anything in your name must go through probate before it goes to your loved ones.  Of course it varies from state to state but creating a will is a good start.
  • Name someone as a guardian for minor children.
  • Include instruction, whether it be disability income or long term care, in the event that you become disabled before you pass away.
  • Make sure you provide for life insurance to cover burial expenses
  • Finally, don’t make estate planning or planning your will a one stop shop.  It must be updated yearly.  Things change.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be this big, complex ordeal.  If you can’t afford a complex plan, just start within your budget.  This can mean anything from term life to powers of attorney.  Each year, as you review your plan, you can expand it or decrease it.

There’s no time like the present to take care of your loved ones.  Who likes to think about our death?  Who wants to think about the day we may not be able to make our own decisions?  And how many times have you seen people caught off guard with a sudden death?  Don’t let that be you.

The best part of an estate plan is that it can afford you peace of mind.  Your family will remember how thoughtful you were and how much love you put into making them comfortable.

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