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Estate Planning: What You Should Know

Make a plan now so that your wishes will be fulfilled later.

What is the purpose of estate planning?

Specifically, estate planning allows an individual to decide exactly who will benefit from their estate, and to what extent. Estate planning also ensures that the estate will not be destroyed by taxes imposed on the transfer of assets at death.

Trusts can cost several thousand dollars, depending on your needs. A basic living trust may cost under $1,500, while a trust with numerous assets or a complex, multigenerational trust may cost far more. 

Discuss your needs with your estate planning attorney for an accurate price quote.

Everyone needs some degree of estate planning. Estate plans need to be tailored to the needs of the individual. The following estate plan checklist will explain various types of estate planning documents, and help you evaluate those that will be of value to you. Even if you decide to turn the matter over to an estate planning attorney, you should still have a basic understanding of what is involved.

Will or estate planning?

An estate plan begins with a will or living trust. A will provides your instructions, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through your state’s probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs. Not everything you own will go through probate. Here is a list of items every estate plan should include:

  • Will/trust.
  • Durable power of attorney.
  • Beneficiary designations.
  • Letter of intent.
  • Healthcare power of attorney.
  • Guardianship designations.

Key estate planning checklist:

  • Cover Estate Planning Basics
  • Plan Your Asset Ownership
  • Determine Beneficiary Designations
  • Cover Your Debts with Insurance
  • Get A Last Will and Testament
  • Consider A Living Trust
  • Consider A Financial Power of Attorney
  • Consider A Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Get A Living Will
  • Leave Information for Executor and Statement of Desires
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