November 21, 2017
 
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Being Brutally Honest: Dying Is Expensive

The Why and How of Estate Planning
Estate planning is like leafing through your photo album. As the years go by and your family and lifestyle changes, so too should your plan. You plan for college, you plan for retirement, and you should also plan your end-of-life decisions. Estate planning and death are interdependent but they don’t have to drive all of your decisions. In fact, by putting the focus on planning to live well vs. planning to die well, many of the decisions will become as sharp and clear as the photos in your album.

Here are a few tips to get the discussion started: 

  1. How and to whom will your assets be distributed after your death?
  2. Do you want to distribute some of your assets during your lifetime?
  3. How and by whom will you be cared for during your lifetime if you can’t care for yourself?
  4. How and who will manage your assets during your lifetime in case you can’t do it yourself?

 

Who Needs a Plan?
You must be thinking—who needs estate planning? And the answer is: everyone. With a house, car, and some money in the bank, a few stocks and bonds, your 401k—these are assets that need to be managed to your advantage. For small estates, focus on who will receive, and what they will receive. For larger estates, think in terms of preserving your assets - specifically ways to reduce or postpone the tax liability.

What Exactly goes into my Plan?
Simply put, everything you have of value to you. Bank accounts, real estate, stock and bonds, furniture, cars, jewelry, art work, life insurance, pets, retirement accounts and more—potential inheritances for example.

How is this Different from a Will?
A will is a term that everyone is most familiar. But, technically speaking, it is a legal document which names who receives your assets after your death, nominates an executor to manage the process (this includes paying your debts, expenses and taxes) and nominates a guardian for surviving children.

For some, a will may be sufficient. Each state has its own requirements/laws. Check your state government website.

Having an estate helps protect your family. Dying without a plan jeopardizes much or most of the value of your estate by interference from probate court, creditors, lawsuits, lawyers and death taxes.


 

 

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