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5 essentials of estate planning

Let's put this right out there: You don't have to be wealthy to need estate planning. You may still have your home and vehicles, retirement accounts, bank and investment accounts, jewelry and family heirlooms, to list a few. The estate plan determines what will happen to these assets in the event of your untimely demise. And since we all must "demise" some day, putting a plan in place is common sense.

Estate planning goals

You've worked hard to get where you are today. With proper estate planning, you can protect your assets and accomplish your goals:

  • Protect your assets from Medicaid and nursing home costs.
  • Protect your inheritance from falling out of your family through divorce or lawsuits.
  • Minimize the impact of estate taxes.
  • Protect your spouse if you require nursing home care.

The 5 essentials

Estate planning for both elderly and younger clients includes wills, trusts, health care proxies, HIPAA authorizations, living wills and durable powers of attorney. Essentials of estate planning include these important considerations:

  1. Trusted managers. Choose trusted people who will manage your estate if you become incapacitated.
  2. Transferring assets. Avoid family squabbles and transfer the assets the way you want, with the least costs.
  3. Long-term care costs. Protect your assets from the cost of nursing homes and Medicaid.
  4. Family first. Keep your inheritance in your family and avoid the pitfalls of divorce, lawsuits and creditors.
  5. Periodic updates. Laws change and situations change, so review your plan periodically.

With the help of a professional, putting a plan together will help ensure your assets are protected and passed down to your loved ones. Whether you live on a massive estate in the country or in a modest home in the suburbs--it's all estate planning.

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