Estate planning is more than just writing a will

Estate planning is more than just writing a will

The term “estate planning” covers a broad set of topics and can be both confusing and overwhelming to anyone who isn’t familiar with the concept. There is a wide variety of estate planning strategies available. Regardless of wealth, everyone should consider establishing a plan for themselves and their families. What is estate planning? Simply put, it’s the process of ensuring your assets are distributed according to your needs, wants and wishes. It also includes other matters like powers of attorney and advanced medical directives, which help dictate how finances and medical care are handled in the event you become incapacitated. There are a number of different estate planning techniques ranging from relatively straightforward to extremely complex. As an estate planning introduction, let’s focus on three fundamental elements: Wills Trusts Charity   Wills Most people understand what a will is, but what exactly does it do, and more importantly, what doesn’t it do? The goal of a will is to designate who receives your assets after you’ve passed, including any charities you would like to support. A will also allows you to name someone to oversee the distribution of your estate. The named individual is called the “executor” or “executrix.” One

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Living wills and trusts: Here’s what you need to know

Estate planning isn’t the most exciting thing to do, but it’s one of the most important–both for yourself and your family. If you have minor children and some assets, you probably need an estate plan regardless of your tax situation. Why you need a will or living trust If you die without a will (intestate), the laws of the state in which you live will determine the fate of your minor children and your assets. That’s a concerning thought for most people. To avoid this, you need a written will to make your wishes known. The main purposes of a will are to name a guardian for your minor children (if any), name an executor for your estate, and specify which beneficiaries (including charities) should get which of your assets. The guardian’s job is to take care of your kids until they reach adulthood (age 18 or 21 in most states). The executor’s job is to pay your estate’s bills, pay any taxes due, and deliver what’s left to your intended heirs and charitable beneficiaries. The living trust In addition to a will, you may also want to set up a living trust to avoid probate. Probate is a court-supervised legal

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