Estate Planning: Learning When, Why and How to Plan

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Estate Planning: Learning When, Why and How to Plan

What happens to you and your assets when you pass? Who do you want making decisions for you in the event that you no longer can? What happens to your children if you are no longer able to care for them? Estate planning is the answer.

Property: Estate plans are beneficial regardless of your age. Your estate includes real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks and securities, insurance policies, and personal property such as motor vehicles and jewelry. An estate plan can identify the family members who are to receive your property after you pass. Once those member are identified, an estate plan can ensure the property is transferred with as few legal hurdles as possible. Estate plans can also minimize taxes and costs associated with the property passing through. A will is a common estate planning tool that can designate who will receive your property upon death. Individuals may also use living trusts to name beneficiaries of their property. There are significant benefits to a living trust. The main benefit being that property in the living trust can pass through the trust to the beneficiary instead of going through probate. Other ways property can pass through to beneficiaries is setting up bank accounts, deeds, and registrations to “transfer-on-death” to the chosen beneficiary.

What if there is no estate plan for your property? Many individual pass without an estate plan. When this happens, your property is distributed through the state’s intestate succession laws. However, the property the passes often does not include valuable assets. In Missouri, determining who gets what depends on whether there are living children, a spouse, parents or other living relatives.

Child Care: If you have young children, an estate plan can name a guardian to care for those children if you and the other child’s parent are unavailable. You can also name someone to care for your child’s property.

Health Care Arrangements (Health Care Directives): The ability to make health care decisions for yourself is important, but in the event of incapacity, someone might need to make those decision for you. Generally, a power of attorney for health care can name a person to make those decisions when you are no longer able to. A living will can also detail the kind of health care you wish to receive.

Final Arrangements: Further, your estate plan can set forth funeral arrangements. These early decisions can save family members and loved ones substantial time and money.

There is more to estate planning than just deciding who gets what when you pass. It is about making sure family members and loved ones are provided for and that they know what to do in the event that you are no longer able to make important decisions about your life. Contact an attorney to get started with your estate planning needs.

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