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When it comes to providing for your family in the event of death or disability, it doesn’t matter what your net worth is — it’s essential to have a plan prepared and in place long before an emergency arises.

“Estate” refers to everything you own: your home, automobile, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance policies, other real estate and even furniture, jewelry and other personal property.

Estate planning is simply the process of planning and being prepared for the inevitabilities of life, so that upon your death or incapacity, your assets are distributed quickly and according to your wishes, and taxes and legal fees are minimized so that your loved ones receive the greatest portion of your estate.

In the event of disability or incapacity, an Estate Plan will also protect you and instruct appointees of your own selection in how to care for you and your estate during times when you are unable to do so.

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that only those with large assets and bank accounts need estate planning, but the simple fact is, that all of us, no matter how great or how modest our situation, want to be able to provide for those we love after we are gone or in the event we are incapacitated.

During times of change and grief, none of us want to add stress on our loved ones through a protracted probate process that could drain thousands of dollars out of an estate through taxes, legal fees, and court costs. Nor do we want to leave family members without the ability to access bank accounts or sell property if need be.

An Estate Plan allows you to make specific provisions for how, when, and to whom your assets will be distributed or shared. Components of an Estate Plan typically include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Trust, and Health Care Directive.

Combined, these documents work effectively and immediately to protect you and your loved ones. Among other things, Estate Plans will:

  • Provide instructions for your medical care in the event of disability or incapacitation.
  • Distribute assets according to your specific wishes so that family members, relatives, friends and charitable organizations all receive parts of your estate exactly as you wish.
  • Designate guardians for minor children.
  • Provide for business transfer or for business continuation in the event of your death or mental or physical incapacity.

Attention! We are not attorneys and we are not lawyers. We cannot represent customers, select legal forms, or give advice on rights or laws. The article provided is for information ONLY and is NOT a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.