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The area of estate planning involves much more than simply creating a Will to dispose of your assets. Estate planning is a process used to protect your individual rights and goals with regard to the most important lifelong issues including your health care, childcare, personal property and real estate.
While a Will is one of the essential building blocks of a good estate plan, a Will alone will not insure that you and your family are adequately protected. Unfortunately, tomorrow is not a guarantee to anyone, and prolonging the decision to create an estate plan could have devastating consequences to your family in the event of an illness or accident.
Responsible planning requires identifying the trusted individuals who you want to make health care and financial decisions for you in the event that you become unable to do so. By using a Durable Power of Attorney, you can select the people you trust to make decisions on your behalf during a period of serious illness or incapacity. By creating a Living Will, you can confirm your intentions with respect to the use of life sustaining treatment, such as breathing and feeding tubes, in the event that you are unable to express your desires.
A well structured estate plan can minimize or eliminate estate taxes that could otherwise cost your heirs nearly half of the assets in your estate. The estate plan can be employed to insure your assets remain within your family or go to the specific individuals you choose rather than potentially passing to the government, to spouse of a child, or in some circumstances to a new spouse of your surviving spouse who remarries after your passing. The estate plan can be a vehicle to hold and manage assets for the benefit of a minor child or an adult, which can protect your assets from creditors or from being wasted by the named beneficiary.
Regardless of how big or small your estate is, or how old or young you may be, estate planning is beneficial for every adult and their family. Responsible planning must start today and will last a lifetime.