Do I Need an Estate Plan?

There is no doubt that estate planning can seem to be an unpleasant topic to discuss, and therefore most people usually do nothing about it. Unfortunately, if you ignore those issues now, you may cost your family thousands or even millions of dollars later, as well as cause considerable anguish. Proper estate planning takes far less time and effort than most people imagine, and it can give you tremendous peace of mind.

Some “Top” Things to Know

1. No matter your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place. Such a plan ensures that your family and financial goals are met after you die.

2. An estate plan has several elements. They include: a will, assignment of power of attorney, and a living will or health-care proxy (medical power of attorney). For some people, a trust may also make sense. When putting together a plan, you must be mindful of both federal and state laws governing estates.

3. Taking inventory of your assets is a good place to start. Your assets include your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate or business interests. Ask yourself three questions: Whom do you want to inherit your assets? Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you’re ever incapacitated? Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself?

CNNMoney.com. (2010). Money101 Lesson 21: Estate planning. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/