In a recent American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey, 75 percent of individuals responded that not being able to communicate their wishes would be worse than death. Despite this, less than half of people have taken steps to ensure that their wishes would be carried out. Although death is not an easy topic to discuss, end-of-life planning can mean the difference between leaving loving memories or major problems. Which would you prefer?
A person’s estate consists of all the personal belongings, assets, business holdings and financial resources an individual owns. Estate planning is the process of accounting for these items and arranging for the distribution of those assets in order to achieve the wishes of an estate owner.
Good estate planning will determine what happens to your property, who will get it, where it will go and how it will happen. Such planning allows you to have control over your assets when you die and also can assign a guardian or custodian to a minor or disabled person. An estate plan also could considerably reduce the possible taxes and fees associated with probate and the distribution of assets.
Unfortunately, doing all of this is not real easy. There are a lot of specific types of legal documents that come into play, such as wills, trusts, power of attorney, and beneficiary forms. In addition, you have to evaluate and consider tax issues and financial responsibility for heirs as well. However, the benefits of estate planning can be invaluable.