Estate planning: another holiday checklist item

As the holiday season approaches, Santa may not be the only one making a list and checking it twice. Readers may be making lists to serve various purposes. Some may rely on a list to send out holiday cards. Others may be making holiday wish lists. 

The holidays may also be a good time to remember family and loved ones through estate-planning instruments like wills, trusts and other accounts. An attorney that focuses on helping individuals create well-designed estate plans knows that a good way to start this process is also by making a list. 

Depending on an individual’s stage of life, he or she may have different planning objectives. For example, parents of minor children may want to have a safety net in case something happens to them. Individuals approaching retirement may have concerns about protecting assets from the cost of long-term care, and/or qualifying for disability benefit programs without having to bankrupt their savings. At any stage of life, an individual may wish to have a health care directive indicating whether there are certain procedures that he or she would prefer to decline.

Life insurance can also be used as part of an estate plan. In fact, the process of estate planning may include a survey of many different options, such as a comprehensive will, trust, powers of attorney and other legal solutions. From avoiding the frustration of probate to providing for minor children, a trust may be a wise move. Trusts are also a good strategy for keeping details about an estate’s assets out of the public eye. Take the first step today by creating a list of your loved ones and their needs. An attorney can then help you realize those objectives.

Source: The New York Times, “Focusing on the Human Element of Estate Planning,” Paul Sullivan, Nov. 7, 2014

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