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Why everyone needs an estate plan in place

Anyone who cares about what happens to their property after they are gone needs an estate plan put in place. And besides distributing the property according to your wishes, a well-prepared estate plan makes distribution of your belongings easier for your family.

There needs to be an intertwining of estate planning and financial planning as the two are related. Besides preserving assets for your heirs, estate planning also allows for assets to be available during your retirement years or during those times when you are unable to take care of your own affairs. This involves enjoying the retirement years, being able to hold onto the home if you so choose, and the ability to retire when you want. Because of a lack of urgency, many do not get around to estate planning until it’s really too late.

Some things to keep in mind pertaining to estate planning:

  1. It’s always good to have another set of eyes looking over any plan to make certain all items are covered. Attorneys who work in this area of law understand how to avoid costly mistakes others have made when putting together an estate plan. They do this by looking at one’s personal circumstances.
  1. Having a living will, power of attorney and a health care proxy in place is vital. In the event we cannot make decisions for ourselves, we wish to make certain someone we trust is there to make those decisions.
  1. Preparing an estate plan also encourages discussions with the people you care for most. Knowing what your children want sometimes helps make certain decisions easier. For example, when owning a family run business, you want to make certain it is passed on to someone who wants to continue running it.
  1. Knowing the laws of your state is extremely important. California laws differ from those in other states and having a licensed California attorney to assist is invaluable for any California resident.

It’s a mistake to not keep beneficiaries updated. A well-thought estate plan also prevents needless expense and taxation from depleting assets.

Source: USA Today, “Big retirement mistake: Boomers with no estate plan,” Rodney Brooks, April 8, 2015

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