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Wills and estate planning

Estate planning basics: What are the benefits?

Don't let the term 'estate planning' fool you. You don't have to be wealthy to need a plan. If you have assets and you want to control where they go when you pass on, you need an estate plan.

Many people think that estate plans are only for the rich and famous. The fact is, nearly everyone can benefit from having an estate plan in place.

What exactly is your estate?

Your estate is comprised of everything you own - your home, vehicles, checking and savings accounts, life insurance, investments, and other personal possessions. No matter how large or small, everyone has an estate and something else in common - you can't take it with you when you die.

After you're gone, do you want to make sure that the instructions you've left behind are carried out according to your wishes? What about certain possessions that you'd like to see in the hands of a loved one? And what about ensuring that the people you care about the most receive certain assets with the least amount of taxes, legal fees, and court costs? A good estate plan can include all of these things, as well as:

  • Providing for family members with special needs without disrupting their government benefits
  • Final expense life insurance, provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income in the event you are unable to work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury
  • Instructions for passing on family heirlooms and other valuables
  • Medical directives for your care if you become disabled or are facing an end of life situation
  • Naming a guardian for your minor children
  • Provide for the transfer of your business at your disability or death
  • Help minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees that may be associated with probate

Most importantly, your estate plan should be an ongoing process and not a one-time event. Be sure to review and update your plan as your family and financial situations (and laws) change.



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