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Putting together an estate plan? Three steps to success.

A number of events can trigger the need for an estate plan. Some realize this need when they have children. Others begin the process when retirement is on the horizon. Whatever the occasion, it is wise to have a basic outline in place before sitting down to put together the plan.

The easiest way to begin the process is start a conversation about the three most prevalent issues that generally come up when putting together an estate plan.

What are the biggest issues? Although each plan is unique, all conversations generally touch on these main issues:

  • Emotional attachment. Estate planning is a process that is fraught with sentiment. Your estate is more than just a bottom line number. It includes the memories made in the family home, the legacy of an heirloom piece of jewelry or artwork. Take these attachments into account when putting together your plan and explain the significance behind the transfer.
  • Tax issues. Don't forget the tax man! Assets are often taxed when transferred, but keep in mind that the amount taxed may be more than expected. Assets likely appreciated during your lifetime. As a result, they will probably be worth more when the estate plan goes into effect. Keep this possibility in mind. It is also important to note that tax obligations can be reduced with proper planning.
  • Liquidity. When planning for potential tax obligations, it is also wise to make sure the estate has the funds available and easily accessible to pay these bills. Having liquidity essentially means that at least a portion of your estate is in cash form.

Although these three steps will set you up for a successful estate plan, they are just the beginning. It is often wise to have a plan tailored by a legal professional to better ensure that it meets your needs.

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