WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?

Estate Planing allows you to determine how your property will be distributed at your death, specify your health care wishes in case you are incapacitated and ensure your loved ones are provided for in your absence. A comprehensive and a well-drafted estate plan can eliminate various legal questions that may come up when someone dies. What real and personal property do you own? Who gets what? How will your financial affairs be settled? Does a guardian need to be appointed for the care of minor children? How much tax will need to be paid in order to transfer ownership of property?

Your estate includes everything you own, such as your house, bank accounts, stocks, life insurance policies and all of your personal property. Regardless of your age or the size of your estate, one of the most important reasons to have a plan is to ensure that your loved ones are cared for in your absence. In order to begin an estate planning process, you need to have an accurate picture of your estate. Make a list of all of your major assets and liabilities. Second, think about your values and wishes. Consider what is important to you, how you want to preserve those beliefs and how you want to pass them along to future generations. For instance, through your estate plan, you can encourage a family member to attend college by providing to pay for tuition. Moreover, you can discourage alcohol or drug abuse by limiting access to funds from heirs who have substance abuse problems.

The time you take to establish a plan will provide your family with a great deal of comfort. If family members are called upon to act on your behalf in case of illness or death, an existing plan will make those difficult decisions for them and take the burden off your family.