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Estate Planning; Critical Decisions

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Estate Planning; The Crucial Decision

So how is it best to put this?

At some point, while you may not want to think about it, and never mind, talking about it and no one is immune. The inevitable. Estate Planning.

So what then?

We all would like to think that our estates will get miraculously sorted out and that you can leave this planet knowing all is going to go well. The TV plot from TV dramas of squabbling relatives will not happen. Well, it does happen in real life. But you’re not just leaving an estate. You’re going to be leaving what some would call “a legacy.”

Estate Planning is your direction of who you want to be in charge and who will have control of what happens to what matters most to you, things like your minor children, other dependents, your financial assets, even your own health care decisions if you can’t. Without a well-planned estate or legacy strategy. Your assets could become the subject to a very time-consuming, very expensive, and very public process where your relatives and creditors can gain access to records and even challenge your will or wishes.

According to recent statistics, 77 percent of Americans believe having a strategy in place is essential for everyone – and it’s not just the rich – only 24 percent of those financially well off have even taken the crucial step of designating beneficiaries for all their accounts. To avoid one of those “then what?” or “when the time comes” moments, here are some of the critical elements to consider:

• The Will. So, what’s the worst that can happen? “A lot can happen that you didn’t want”. Some experts say it will depend on individuals’ situation, the personality and care of the people in your life – and the kicker; the laws that your state has on the books regarding the end of life.”

So, in other words, a court judge could ultimately decide who gets what, especially if your heirs can’t agree on their own. The same judge could also wind up being the one appointing the guardian for your minor child/children.

• A Living Trust. If you happen to own out-of-state property, like a vacation home? You can register into what is called a revocable living trust certain trust items, and be there for your benefit during your lifetime. Your named trustee can manage it if you become incapacitated. It is said that Living Trusts can be harder to contest than wills.

• A Health Care Directive.  If you don’t like the idea of some stranger in a courtroom deciding things, what about if you become incapacitated and in a state where you can’t voice your opinion? You surely don’t want the court system having to settle an inter-family fight. Such as you would like to live in a vegetative state or be taken off life support.

It’s happened.

If you are shocked at the mear thought? Then you’ll understand the importance of appointing that trusted someone to carry out your wishes if you no longer can communicate or incapable of giving consent.

• Beneficiary Designations.  According to a survey, 76 percent of those surveyed hadn’t bothered to fill out a beneficiary’s name on accounts such as their 401(k) and other savings accounts.

For most, estate planning is as simple as a written will. If you’re lost in such legal stuff, a good financial advisor can be a great asset and resource to compile a long-term or short-term strategy that, among other things, could potentially avoid a lengthy court process known as probate.

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