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How to make estate planning easy—and why it matters

Do you wish you could predict the future? You can, using a successful estate plan. The future is coming, whether you provide for your loved ones or not. Formalize your wishes in an estate plan. Peace of mind comes when you are in control.

Well-meaning people die every day without leaving an estate plan. You probably do not want to leave your family guessing how to best settle your affairs. Your estate plan represents a lifetime of work and goals for your future. Do not wait to take this important step.  

Plan for a rainy day

Few things are more distressing than the possibility of an accident or an unexpected decline in health. Through setting up a durable power of attorney and an advance health care directive, you can help your family to deal with a medical emergency. With advances in modern medicine, people now enjoy longer lives. The quality of those golden years, however, may depend on how you plan for them today.

Tackle tax issues

An estate plan is especially important in whether you maximize tax benefits over your lifetime. You do not need a sizeable estate to make significant gains with tax planning. Even smaller estates can benefit. No matter the estate size, you want your beneficiaries to keep the financial gifts they receive. Some people practice false economy when they believe it is too expensive to set up an estate plan. Future taxes can cause problems for your loved ones when you do not prepare for distributing even a modest estate.

Set up a double-strength solution

Your estate plan will normally include your last will and testament. That is only half the power you could have. Your estate planner can add an appropriate trust to maximize the strength of your estate. California now provides for recanting an irrevocable trust. This means that if you set up tax advantages now, you do not have to worry about future tax laws or beneficiary life changes that may diminish your estate's ability to protect your family's welfare.

An important part of setting up a trust is naming a trustee who will administer the terms of your trust. For example, if one of your children sustains an accident and needs significant care, your trustee can "decant" or pour part of your irrevocable trust assets into a new instrument called a special needs trust. This trust provides for the needs of a family member who requires lifetime medical care and supervision.

A good estate planner is gold

Enlist a professional estate planner. This person can help you make your long-term family protection plans a reality. Your estate planner can head off problems before they begin; for example, if one of your children is likely to cause trouble and contest your estate, you can separate that child's inheritance and lock in the remainder of your distributions fairly for the rest of your family. A good estate planner makes it easy to formalize your specific goals. You may want to start now to plan successful future protection for you and your loved ones.

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