Top Reasons To Do Estate Planning

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There are many reasons to have an estate plan.  If you have not made any provisions for distribution of assets after your death the assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of the state where you died.  Generally couples want the surviving spouse to receive the assets with the distribution going to the children after the death of the surviving spouse.  If your assets are distributed according to the laws of the state the assets of the first spouse to die may be split between the surviving spouse and the children so the surviving spouse will not receive what you intended.

If you become incapacitated and have not made any arrangements for someone else to handle your affairs you have a problem.  Someone will need to be appointed to handle  your affairs and this may not be the person you prefer in that role.

It is important to talk with an attorney who is experienced in estate planning.  The attorney and possibly a trust officer at a financial institution will be able to guide you in planning  your estate to accomplish your goals.

An estate plan allows you to have control over how your assets are handled and distributed.  You may want to consider setting up a revocable living trust to manage your assets while you are alive.  Then at your death the assets of the revocable living trust will be distributed according to the terms of the trust and they will not have to go through probate.  As the name indicates you may terminate your revocable living trust at any time during your lifetime.

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With your estate plan you can have a Will prepared to ensure that when you die your assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries you choose.  Your Will can be drafted to minimize the impact of estate taxes on the estate.  If you do not think it is wise to give assets outright to a beneficiary you can have the assets held in a trust with distributions of that income to the beneficiary.

If you have minor children you can name the person or persons you wish to be appointed as guardians for these minor children when you are no longer here.

You may want to provide for some charities and you can do this under your Will.

If you own a business then as part of your estate planning you can make provisions for continuance of that business.

In addition to a Will part of your estate planning should also include a durable power of attorney.  This will allow the person you designate to handle your assets if you become incapacitated.  You should also have an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care.  The power of attorney for health care will allow the person you appoint to handle decisions regarding  your health.  The advance directive will outline your wishes with regard to your health care treatment.

Estate planning is very important to protect you and  your family in the future.  Having a good estate plan in place can bring you great peace of mind knowing your family will be cared for if you are not able to manage things or are no longer here.

Once your estate plan is in place it is a good idea to review it every few years and if there have been changes in your family situation then you should, of course, review it at that time.  You want to be sure to keep your Will, trusts and powers of attorney up to date.