Estate Planning is not some new idea that was created in the 80's. The affluent have been using estate planning principles for hundreds of years. The principles are simple. What is yours is yours. Your assets should be protected during your lifetime and distributed according to your instructions after your death. If you do not do a little estate planning ahead of time you will not only loose control of your assets and the distribution thereof, but you might just find a new relative you didn't know you had. Uncle Sam.
Planning one's estate is not terribly difficult. However, a poorly constructed estate plan almost always causes more harm than good. It is advisable to seek professional assistance to insure that your planning is solid and will accomplish your goals. The following are common goals, tools and guidelines used by many estate planning professionals.
Estate Planning Goals
Estate Planning Tools
Basic Estate Planning Guidelines
Though most Americans are aware that they need a will,
the majority haven't prepared one, to say nothing of a more
comprehensive estate plan to avoid probate or save on estate taxes.
And unfortunately many who have thought about what should happen to
their property when they die haven't updated their plan in years.
Young Single Adult
Even a young single adult needs to have a some kind of
estate plan. Every year thousands of young adults are disabled or die
unexpectedly. Without some kind of plan you would be imposing the
burden of your final expenses or worse yet the expense of providing
for all of your needs on a third party. Most likely your parents.
Although these things do happen, they are not the norm and you should
be planning for the future.
Young Married Couple with Children
Having children increases the importance of having a
well thought out estate plan. What would happen if you or your spouse
or both of you were to die or become disabled? Would this have a
financial impact on your family's life style? It doesn't have too.
Middle Aged (40 - 55)
At this point we are going to be optimistic and assume
that life is good and that you have been fortunate enough to
accumulate some wealth. As we accumulate wealth we must consider what
will happen to it when we are gone.
Additional, because you should be in the prime income
earning years of your life you should have plan to deal with an
unexpected disability. The facts show that you are more likely to be
disabled during these years than you are to die. Disability and
Long-term Care insurance are a very inexpensive way to protect
against the devastating expenses associated with a long term disability.
Because most senior citizens have a will and have done
some planning we would like to focus on making sure it is up to date
Although we never hope for the worst we should always prepare for it. A well developed plan can turn the most devastating situation into a time of reflection and provide you and your family with the peace of knowing that all of your financial burdens will be covered.
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