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Estate planning preserves assets, protects interests

Some Florida residents may feel intimidated by the estate planning process. In many cases, this intimidation can be chocked up to a lack of knowledge regarding the various components involved in estate planning. Oftentimes, after learning of the purposes the various components of estate planning serve, many come to realize not only the benefits of drafting a solid estate plan, but the importance of doing so for both the person planning the estate and their family.

Recent studies show that only somewhere between 35 and 45 percent of all Americans have estate plans. This points to a general lack of knowledge involving the importance of protecting assets after one has passed. No matter what happens, family members will be left to deal with a person's estate following their passing. Estate planning can help to ensure family members are left in as painless a position as possible.

The first estate planning component that should be mentioned is the will. Quite simply, a will makes known how a person's assets should be distributed following the person's death. Without a will, the state will decide how to distribute the assets, which may leave families in a highly undesirable position. With a will, however, the best interests of the family can be protected.

The next component worth considering is the trust. Contrary to popular perception, trusts are not only for the super wealthy. One benefit of the trust is that it allows a person to decide both how and when assets will be distributed. Plus, it may allow for certain tax benefits and greater protection of a person's assets.

Becoming informed on the differences between wills and trusts can help people decide on the best course of action to pursue. And this is just skimming the surface. There are many components in an estate plan, many of which serve valuable purposes. Getting started on estate planning right away can help people discover what components they need to satisfy their goals.

Source: CNN Money, "10 steps to painless estate planning," Martha White, Mar. 3, 2014

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