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Estate planning can let one be prepared for the inevitable

As the old saying goes, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” While many people in Ft. Myers are currently facing the taxes portion of that adage head-on during this time of the year, many others are reluctant to plan for the other portion of the saying, death. Yet death will one day come to us all, and no one can predict when it will happen. Therefore, it is important to have all your affairs in order now, which means drafting an estate plan.

When you decide to create an estate plan, you should first make an inventory of all your property and all your debts. By doing so, you can calculate your net worth, and ensure you understand what comprises your complete estate. Different types of assets may necessitate different estate planning tools. For example, a life insurance policy will bypass the probate process, but a will does not. For privacy reasons, and to bypass probate, some choose to place their assets in trusts.

Once you have an understanding of what comprises your estate, decisions must be made as to who will inherit your assets. Remember, there are various ways to distribute your assets. For example, will an heir receive his or her inheritance all at once with a will, or will an heir’s inheritance be placed first in a trust and then distributed accordingly, for example, when the heir reaches certain ages or milestones? Also, it is important to make sure the beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement accounts are reviewed periodically. For example, you may not want your ex to stay on your life insurance policy after a divorce.

Also, someone must be designated to manage your estate plan. This person is known as an ‘executor.’ It can be a loved one, a lawyer or even a corporate trustee. In addition, a person needs to be designated as having power of attorney should you become incompetent and are no longer able handle your own affairs. Living wills can also dictate what kind of life-saving or life-extending measures you do, or do not, want.

All of this may seem overwhelming, especially if you are at square one when it comes to estate planning. However, do not fear. Attorneys are available to help you. They can explain your options, help make sense of complicated legal topics and help you create an estate plan that meets your expectations.

Source: investors.com, “5 Must-Do Tips For Your Will And Estate Planning,” Lawrence Carrel, Feb. 24, 2017

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