Estate Planning Basics

Estate Planning BasicsMost people put off estate planning because they simply do not want to think about their own death and think they are too busy to deal with it.

But estate planning can be extremely helpful to your loved ones.  Estate planning can not only make the transfer of assets simpler, but it can ensure that everything you have worked long and hard to obtain ends up in the right places after you die.

This article will not cover the intricacies of things like, trusts, estate taxes, probate, or life insurance, but it will provide some essential information about estate planning that you should consider:

1. Have an estate plan: Estate plans ensure that your goals are met, for your family and financially, after your death.

2. Elements of an Estate Plan: An estate plan generally contains several elements: a will, assignment of power of attorney, and an Advanced health care directive/living will or health care proxy (medical power of attorney). For some people, a trust might also make sense.

3. Take Inventory of Your Assets: Typical assets include your bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and business interests.

4. Review beneficiaries: As your family situation changes over the course of your lifetime, you may need to change the names of beneficiaries not only in your will but in life insurance policies and other documents that list beneficiaries.

5. Discuss your estate plans with your loved ones/heirs: If your loved ones/heirs know about your intentions, there will likely be a lot less confusion later.

6. Stay Organized: When someone passes away, it can be traumatic for loved ones. Even with complete estate planning documents, if your loved ones cannot find them, it can make things very complicated for them. Help them by staying organized and keeping things like keys to safety deposit boxes, financial statements and other necessary information altogether. It is essential to create a list of where all-important information can be located and give the list to someone you trust.

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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