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What is Estate Planning? Hint, It May Not Be What You Think.

Attorney Rob McCarthyMany people ask me what is estate planning? So I’ve decided to give everybody an response to this frequently asked question. When we arrive at a particular place or season in life we frequently start to think about our own mortality. Perhaps mom and dad surprise us by discussing the planning they have carried out. Maybe you find out about someone dealing with an unanticipated loss of life. Possibly your friend says something about their will or trust.

You then decide it’s time. It’s time to take action and make an estate plan. According to Wikipedia estate planning is the process of arranging for the disposal of an estate. In effect estate planning is arranging for the orderly distribution of property upon death.

While it may or may not seem like you have a huge estate, everybody has items and individuals in their life that they would prefer that their property go to. Certainly, most everybody would rather not have the state manage their property upon their passing away or incapacity. Yet this is most likely to happen if a person dies without a plan in place.

The state’s standard plan is to give your property to your nearest kin. This is certainly not much of a strategy. You may be surprised to hear your spouse may not actually get all your assets if you die without an estate plan. Also, if you have children, the court may have to agree to any money being paid to them, not to mention that your minor children may not be taken care of by the people you would select. How about the fact that your property and your bills get written in court documents that are available to the public during the probate process.

The good news is, for most individuals, making a individualized estate plan is a matter of taking four uncomplicated action steps:

Make a list of your major belongings.
Determine who will get your major belongings.
Decide who you want to manage your property.
Decide who you want to take care of your children.

*The above information is very general in nature and should not be considered or relied upon as legal or any other type of advice. If a reader has any legal problem immediately consult an attorney for specific legal advice. If a reader has a medical or psychological issue, immediately consult with a medical professional. See the disclaimer tab at the top of the page for more information.

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