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Estate planning much more than just minimizing taxes

Many Florida residents may realize the importance of estate planning but decide against starting the process for a number of reasons. Some may think they are not old enough, while others may think they do not have enough money or properties for it to matter. What's more, there are people who believe estate planning only serves to minimize taxes. And while that's part of it, estate planning is much more than that; it is something everyone should consider -- regardless of age or income.

Regardless of whether someone is an 80-year-old millionaire with real estate all around the country, or a 25-year-old working an entry-level job and supporting a newborn, estate planning matters. It matters to the loved ones left behind, and it matters to the estate planner. Estate planning helps people stretch out their IRAs (individual retirement accounts) in order to cover all basic needs while ensuring their loved ones are provided for should anything unfortunate occur.

While all this may seem morbid, estate planning is really a positive thing and shows that someone is caring enough to plan ahead.

Planning ahead is important, but when first starting estate planning it is also important to look to the present. Taking inventory of all existing assets will help make sure nothing is left out and that asset distribution is not decided by probate court. Annuities, insurance policies, investments: every asset needs to on an estate plan, and taking inventory is the easiest way to get everything listed.

Estate planning may seem complicated, but there are attorneys available who specialize in estate and probate law who can assist with the process. It is an ongoing process -- estates should be regularly updated to account for any changes in marital status, income and the like -- but the effort is worth it for loved ones and anyone who desires financial peace of mind.

Source: Fox Business, "4 Tips to Begin the Estate-Planning Process," Kathryn Buschman Vasel, Nov. 22, 2013

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