Estate Planning

Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, your home and other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and other personal possessions. No matter how big or small, everyone has an estate.

Estate planning is the act of preparing for the inevitable: one’s death. It is about making a plan in advance, naming those you know and love so they can benefit from your estate after you are gone.

To ensure that your wishes are carried out after you are gone you will want to have a proper will written up by an attorney. Larger estates might also establish trusts to ensure the ongoing benefits of an estate, or appoint an administrator to manage an estate for the benefits of minors. A trust can also be very important if you become incapacitated and are unable to manage your own estate.

Good estate planning involves the following:

  • Instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables
  • Instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die
  • Naming a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children
  • Providing for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits
  • Providing for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce
  • Life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot 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
  • Providing for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death
  • Minimizing taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees
  • Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (or the laws) change over your lifetime