The first step in estate planning is to have a discussion with family members to determine needs and objectives.
Estate planning involves making legal decisions before your death about the use, maintenance and disposal of your real estate, investments, cash, social security, family heirlooms, life insurance and business ownership. If designed properly, it will protect your heirs from legal distress or delay. If you don’t have a properly prepared will that provides decisions about your estate, it could be years before your property is awarded to your heirs, or it could be transferred to them and distributed in ways you didn’t intend. A well-designed estate plan can save thousands of dollars in death taxes and estate-settlement costs.Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Regardless of your income or net worth, estate planning can be critical to the health, security, and welfare of loved ones. The only way to ensure that your wishes will be carried out after your gone is to plan ahead.
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Estate planning involves a number of legal and financial regulations and personal decisions.
Use these questions as a guide as you develop an estate plan:
1. Who will provide for my surviving spouse and children?
2. What will happen to the family business?
3. Who will pay for my children’s college education?
4. How high will the taxes be on my estate?
5. Who will pay for my burial expenses, estate settlement, taxes and other debts?
6. Will my heirs be treated fairly in the distribution of my assets?
7. Do I want to make gifts to my heirs during my lifetime?
8. Do I want to provide for a favorite charity or other organization?
9. Will my assets fall into the hands of undeserving heirs?
10.Are there estate-planning strategies I can use to reduce my estate taxes?
Don’t let family members who are reluctant to talk about difficult issues delay this important discussion!