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What is Estate Planning and Why is it So Important?

What is estate planning?  Estate planning is making sure that you have the appropriate legal documents in place for your circumstances to help ensure that you will be covered if you ever become incapacitated and to make things as easy as possible upon your death. An estate plan should at the very minimum include a health care proxy and power of attorney. It should also include a Will. Depending on your circumstances, it may include a revocable living trust and/or an irrevocable trust. Why is estate planning so important? On the most basic level, it allows you to take complete control of your affairs and protect yourself and your assets now and in the future. For example, proper planning ensures your hardearned assets will go to the people you want, when you want, in the manner you want after you pass away. Estate planning can also ensure that people you trust have the authority to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. Depending on your particular needs and goals, estate planning can help you accomplish a great deal more, including: • Protect your assets against lawsuits, creditors, the high cost of long-term care, and other threats • Ensure your minor children are raised according to your wishes if something terrible happens to you • Pass your values, work ethic, and sense of responsibility on to heirs • Reduce income, estate, gift, and other taxes • Keep your financial affairs and family information private • Protect the inheritances of your heirs • Leave an enduring legacy Ultimately, estate planning gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a plan in place for whatever the future may hold. In our crazy, scary world … especially right now, do you have your estate planning documents in place? If you do, have they been updated? Do you know someone who should be getting documents in place? Help spread the word – Getting an estate plan done does not need to be painful or scary. It’s something we all need to do, and something we need to keep updated.