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Getting Your Estate Planning Into Order

Nov 5, 2007
Estate planning isn't just for the rich and famous. Many people can benefit from estate planning and their loved ones, those who are left behind, will appreciate the fact that you took care of some of the issues before you passed on. No one likes to think about their own demise, but it is a task that should be done whenever possible.

Estate planning, in its most simple terms, is simply setting your affairs in order while you are alive so that your family will not have to deal with them when you are gone. Estate planning is important because it ensures your assets and wishes will be handled and transferred smoothly.

There can be several components to estate planning. The number and level of components is dependent on many factors, all of which you should think about before making any final decisions. Your estate planning might include such things as your Last Will and Testament, naming a Power of Attorney who can handle some of the legal matters, and setting up any trusts.

Some of the assets that you may need to consider include such things as your home, retirement funds, automobiles, cash, stocks, bonds, and other investments. By detailing who you want to get what, you can help your heirs get through probate court with as few problems as possible.

Your estate planning can also include the use of a living trust. With a living trust you transfer ownership of your assets into a trust and then have someone administer the trust. This all but negates the need for your family to go through probate court, which can be expensive and emotionally challenging. Living trusts must be set up carefully, so it is best to work with an expert in the field.

Estate planning may also include instructions for how your cash and investments are to be used or to whom it is to be left to. You can divide your assets as you see fit, but it is always best to do that before you pass so as to alleviate your family from having to do it when you are gone.

You may also wish to set up trust funds for your children or grandchildren. This, too, can help your family get through your passing as it states what your wishes are and leaves no room for confusion or dissention. You can even state at what age your heirs are to be given their inheritance.

If you have minor children, estate planning can be used to name the person you would like to have as guardian for them. This is best done within a living trust, but there are other ways of doing it too. Again, this is something that you should seek advice from a legal professional.

Your estate planning might also include what is called a living will. This details what you want to happen should you be severely injured or become incapacitated through illness.

Estate planning is a good way to get your desires and wishes across to your family and other people. It is the best way to avoid probate court and it shows your family that you care enough to plan ahead.
About the Author
Peter Kenny is a writer for The Thrifty Scot, please visit us at Quick Loan and IVA advice
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