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Understanding the importance of estate planning

Estate planning is useful for a number of reasons and can provide peace of mind for the estate planner and the estate planner's family. One of the primary benefits of an effective estate plan is that it allows the planner to provide for their family, including their spouse and minor or grown children. An estate plan can also ensure property is transferred to beneficiaries more quickly through a trust, expedited probate process or other methods to provide peace of mind that they will be cared for and will not have to wait for a burdensome period of time.

An effective estate plan also allows the planner to designate an executor and/or trustee for the estate as the situation warrants. This can also help the process move more smoothly for beneficiaries. Planning for incapacity can also be addressed through an estate plan using a living will, healthcare directive or durable power of attorney. These estate planning tools can make the planner's medical and financial wishes known in the event of incapacity. Overall, an effective estate plan is an emotional benefit to surviving family members and may provide additional benefits as well.

Lastly, an effective estate plan can minimize the costs of transferring property so more of it goes to beneficiaries. It can also help reduce the tax burden of the estate. If a business is involved, an effective estate plan can include succession plans to ensure it is smooth and the continued success of the business. There are a variety of different aspects of an effective estate plan that should be seriously considered and decided upon in advance.

Because of the importance of estate planning, the legal process provides a number of important tools for planners to help protect their wishes, property and family members. An estate plan is highly personal which is why it is helpful to understand how to use the estate planning tools that are best able to create and effective estate plan for the individual planner.

Source: American Bar Association, "10 Things Estate Planning Can Do for You," Accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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