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Many people wrongly assume that they don't need estate planning—they believe it's only for the very wealthy. But the fact is that when you die, the government calculates the value of everything you own, including:
Did you know that without a good estate plan:
You need an estate plan if you:
The good news is that with a sound estate plan, you can help:
The most common methods to preserve and transfer your estate to your heirs are Wills, Trusts and Charitable Gifts.
A Will is a legal declaration of how you want your assets to be distributed when you die. A Will is the basic foundation of any estate plan. Under a will, you can:
Wills do have limitations that you should consider:
Trusts allow you to "custom-tailor" the transfer of property to your beneficiaries according to your specific wishes. A Trust can also help you accomplish other financial goals, such as reducing taxes. There are many kinds of Trusts, including:
Please note: A trust is a legal arrangement that: requires relinquishing control over the trust assets; must be properly administered; may not be subject to changes in the future and has other significant risks. Before implementing any plans you should consult with your personal legal, tax, and financial advisors for advice based on your specific circumstances and objectives.
Charitable gifting allows you to distribute a portion of your assets to select charitable organizations, thus reducing your taxes. There are numerous ways to gift assets, both during your lifetime and after your death. They provide the added bonus of:
Estate Settlement Worksheet (187.7 kb)
Estate Planning Checklist (13.3 kb)
Transfer of Assets at Death Handout (135.6 kb)
Wills, Trusts and Durable Powers of Attorney (137.3 kb)
Insurance Trusts Handout (134.6 kb)
Find an Advisor who can help you create an estate planning strategy.