Estate Planning is not just for the Rich. It Protects Your Family.

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Your estate consists of the property you own outright and jointly, including bank accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, vehicles, jewelry, and retirement accounts.

When you add up the value of these assets, it's easy to see that you need a plan for how you want them distributed after you're gone. Estate planning is not just for the rich or those who have a great deal of money or property.
Making a will is the first step. It should tell what property you wish to leave to family members, friends and organizations. It should tell who will act as guardian to manage property for dependent children. It will name an executor to manage your estate, pay debts and taxes, and distribute property according to your wishes.

For some people, a will is enough, but those with more assets or special situations should consult an estate planning attorney. They include people who want control of what happens to property after their death, parents who have a child with a disability or special needs, couples with children from first, second or third marriages, or those who fear someone might declare their will to be invalid.

If you're worried about how much an attorney's services will cost, bring up the subject when you make the appointment. Many questions you have can be answered quickly, while others may take an hour for a meeting and more time for research. Some attorneys offer a free first visit and fixed estimate for legal work involved.

Estate plans should include who will make decisions about your medical care and final arrangements, such as whether you want to be cremated or buried.

This planning also involves finalizing one or more documents that give legal force to your wishes for property management and medical care.

The good news is that your plan can be updated as time goes by. Your wishes at age 45 or 50 will probably change in the next 10 or 15 years.


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