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The Basic Overview Of Estate Planning

You've got an estate. On whatever end of the socioeconomic rainbow you sit, you have finances and property that will be disbursed after your death.

Let's face it, though--if you're visiting this website, you probably sit somewhere in the middle. You have a nice house, a couple of kids, and a career or business you're reasonably happy with.

And, if you're like most Americans, you've avoided planning your estate. You've avoided it for two perfectly natural reasons. First, you're afraid that you don't have as much money as you go around thinking you do. As embarrassingly ostrich-like as it may seem, many people would rather not know the full truth of their financial situation.

The second reason? You don't want to die--don't even want to think about it.

A sound estate plan will ensure that your family is taken care of, minimize the specter of your heirs fighting over their inheritances, and keep your wealth from disappearing into taxes and lawyers' fees. What if you're wondering about the estate benefits to paying for your children's education? What if you doubt that your spouse could cope with the details of your estate? What if you and your spouse die simultaneously? Who would manage your estate for your underage children? And at what age should your children start receiving your assets? You can address all these issues through your estate plan.

Need more? Without planning, your survivors are likely to be unprepared for estate tax, meaning that your property and real estate may have to be quickly liquidated, making your survivors sellers in a buyers' market. So much the worse if, for instance, real estate prices are down and treasured holdings disappear for a fraction of their actual worth.

What you'll find in The Basics Of Estate Planning:

  • Overview: Why estate planning is so important, how to keep track of your investments, who you need on your estate planning team, and more.

  • The Value Of Your Estate: Before you figure out what you want to give, and to whom you want to give it, you need to determine what you actually have.

  • Choosing Estate Planning Professionals: Depending on the size of your estate, the process can be a bit complicated--you might need professional help from estate planners, estate lawyers, insurance agents, appraisers, trust executives or bank officers.

  • How To Choose A Financial Planner For Estate Planning Purposes: Good financial planners usually have a fiscal or legal background, with professional training and experience in accounting, banking or finance, insurance, stocks or tax law.

  • Low-Cost Legal Help For Estate Planning: A good estate plan definitely requires sound legal advice. That legal advice, however, doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

  • Discussing Your Bequests With Your Heirs: Map out your bequests now, while you still have time to think about how you want to provide for your loved ones. A well-thought-out plan can go a long way toward reducing resentment among those you love.

  • Deciding Whether To Disinherit Someone: Nothing prevents you from disinheriting a child, but before doing so you should give it serious consideration.

  • Estate Planning: Providing For Your Pet: Although you generally can't simply leave everything to your pet in your will, there are ways you can provide for your beloved household pets. 

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