Estate Planning Checklist: How to Protect Your Future, Your Family, and Your Property

3166478000000578-0-image-a-38_1455991844272Life is complicated. Money is complicated. Now imagine someone you love getting a phone call at 1 a.m. and being asked to step into your shoes, make medical decisions for you, and manage your financial matters while you’re temporarily or permanently unable to do so yourself. And this person has to do it all without operating instructions and clear legal permission to act on your behalf.

Estate planning helps make that scenario less harrowing. Giving the right forms and information to the right people helps ensure that loved ones don’t have to fight in court for the right to carry out your final wishes, that insurance policies don’t get paid out to former flames, and that people you trust can access accounts and assets in order to help maintain the status quo until you recover and take back the reins.

Yeah, but do I need an estate plan?

Creating an “estate plan” may conjure images of aristocrats wearing blazers adorned with family crests visiting their lawyer’s mahogany-paneled offices to collect trust-fund checks and, while they’re at it, write Junior out of the will (again) for crashing the Bentley.

What? You don’t have a crusty old family lawyer who takes care of the administrative details? You don’t have a vast family fortune in need of management?

Well, you do have an estate. In legal terms, an “estate” is nothing more than the stuff a person owns. These, my friend, are your assets. If you own stuff and have anyone on this planet whom you love, then you need an estate plan. If you have a significant other, kids, and/or property, then you definitely need an estate plan. (Read More)

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