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The basics of estate planning

Many people in the Fort Myers area have some idea of what estate planning means. Hopefully, many people have started at least thinking about an estate plan for themselves. If not, though, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, estate planning is not just for the rich. Estate planning simply allows you to decide what will happen to your assets when you pass away. Whether your assets include three homes and a substantial sum of money, or things as simple as your grandmother's silver and a modest home, creating an estate plan makes sure you have a say in what happens to your possessions.

Next, estate planning allows you to protect your assets -- and heirs -- from the Internal Revenue Service. Depending on your portfolio of assets, there are multiple techniques you can use to avoid having to pay estate taxes. Avoiding taxes means more of your assets will go to those you bequeath them to.

The tools you use for estate planning depend on your assets and what you wish to happen to them upon your death. If you want to leave a substantial amount of money to your children, but don't want them to be frivolous with it, you might decide to establish a trust. Others find that life insurance is a useful estate planning tool.

No matter what your wishes for your assets are, a good way to start the estate planning process is to talk to an attorney who can advise you of the best options for your unique situation.

Source: Forbes, "What Is Estate Planning?" Russ Alan Prince, Nov. 4, 2013

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