The Importance of Estate Planning

By: Dawn Mattina

No one likes to think about it, but at some point, death will come to us all. When we pass away, we will undoubtedly leave family and loved ones behind. It is extremely important to have some sort of estate planning in place well in advance, and before the people you care about most, are in need of it.  Regardless of your net worth – whether it is a few hundred dollars or in the  millions – you need an estate plan to make sure your loved ones are taken care of and protected in the event of your death. Basic estate plans generally contain three different parts: a Will, a designation of Power of Attorney, and a designation of Medical Power of Attorney/Living Will. There are federal laws governing these things, as well as individual state laws depending on where you live, so you will likely want to consult an attorney to make sure your estate plan is compliant with all applicable legal guidelines. To get started putting your estate plan together, you need to take stock of your assets. Your assets include any real estate, insurance plans, savings, investments and anything else of that nature. The Will in your estate plan outlines what you want to have done with your assets after you die, so you must then consider whom you want to have inherit your assets. If it is more than one person, then you must consider how the assets should be divided among those particular people. Wills are not simply for allocating your assets. The Will is also the document that will outline who will be the guardians and caretakers of your children after your death. Setting this out clearly, well before it might be necessary, will ensure your children are properly taken care of.  This is one of the main reasons why estate planning is so very important, regardless of how much your estate is worth monetarily. Dying  without a Will – can create conflict within your family and may mean that your wishes will not be carried out as you wanted, after you are gone. Dying is an uncomfortable subject to think about or talk about, especially when we are young, but having a basic estate plan in place is the responsible thing to do, particularly if you have children. The plan will ensure that your assets are divided in the way you want them to be, and that your family and loved ones are taken care when you are no longer here. Addressing these concerns now will also lessen the burden for your family, and makes things so much easier for everyone during a very stressful and difficult time for all concerned.

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