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Estate Planning is essentially the process of preserving and protecting your assets and property and then anticipating and arranging for them to be passed onto the next generation in the most orderly manner possible. Estate Planning is meant to:
- Protect and guide your family and loved ones;
- Preserve and grow your assets during life;
- Eliminate uncertainty;
- Minimize, if not avoid, potential problems; and
- Maximize the value of your estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.
This applies to everyone; whether you are single, widowed, divorced or a married or unmarried couple. It also does not matter how many assets or how much property you may have. Estate planning is far more than a “simple” Will. Estate planning is your legacy; how you wish to be remembered and how you wish to care for your family and loved ones. When you think about it, everybody has the same reasons.
You want to choose the people who receive your assets and property that you worked hard to accumulate during your life. You do not want a court or some other third party to make that decision. You also want those people to receive at the right time, when it is most appropriate based on age, maturity, abilities, needs or circumstances. And you want to make it difficult for anyone to fight over or contest your wishes.
You want to choose the people who will handle your financial and personal affairs not only upon your death, but also when you become too ill or disabled to act for yourself. And you may need to make professional management of your finances an option or a requirement.
You want to distribute the maximum amount of your assets and property that you worked hard to accumulate during your life. Thus, you want to minimize, if not avoid altogether, anything that would reduce that amount, such as taxes and other expenses. Further, you may want to protect your assets and property from divorce, lawsuits, creditors or bankruptcy during your lifetime and after your death. And you may want to preserve access to government benefits, such as Medicaid, for yourself and your family and loved ones.
Peace of Mind
But the most important reason for estate planning is the result – the peace of mind that comes from the knowledge that you, your family and your loved ones will be properly protected when the time comes.