By Kimberly Matas
Posted By: Liwin Troy Lee
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By Ryan Dennin
In desperate times like these everyone is focused on where they can squeeze and extra penny or two. While it may be wise to cut down on trips that take up a lot of gas, or that extra trip to star bucks, it is important to not lose focus on the one thing that is guaranteed to happen. It may sound harsh but everyone will die someday and it is important that an estate plan be completed to ensure the people most important to you are taken care of. The recession may be the ultimate time to take care of the Estate Planning process that so many people have put off for all those years. While writing a sound estate plan may be an added expense it is not something that you don’t want to have in place. The government has a plan for you if you die “inestate” (without a will or trust) and having a plan ensures that YOU make the decisions to what happens to your assets not them. Another important point is putting a plan together for what happens to your assets isn’t an investment that will lose money during this time. It will ensure those items you own are there for the ones you love the most when you pass away. While many people may ignore investing and saving during a recession, an estate plan is not something I recommend passing on during these tough economic times.
By Steven Muller
A living trust is a legal entity that can own property and direct distribution of that property after a person's death. One of the benefits of a living trust is that it isn't subject to probate, or its associated costs and delays.
If you establish a trust, you appoint yourself as the initial trustee and primary beneficiary of the trust. You retain full and complete control over the property during your lifetime. In the living trust document, you appoint the individual or charities that will take on the role as successor trustee when you can no longer act as the initial trustee. After death all your assets are given to your beneficiaries without the hassle of probate. Probate is the process of properly transferring the estate to the rightful beneficiaries. This process is also used to collect any taxes due on the transfer of the property.
The property from the estate can be also transferred to the intended beneficiaries via a will. A living trust is sometimes referred to as a "will substitute." Although, in some respects, it does take the place of a will, a will is still usually necessary to distribute assets outside the trust, and to nominate guardians for minor children. The major difference between a will and a living trust is a will does not avoid probate and does not protect the management of your assets in the event of you should become debilitated during your lifetime.
By Steven Muller
Estate planning involves the determination of who will inherit your property upon your death. Estate planning also should include actions intended to minimize taxes and address issues related to the care and custody of children. The only way to be sure that your goals and wishes are followed is to document them in a legally binding manner. This usually means signing a document that states these goals and that has been signed, witnessed, and notarized as required by law. Specific documents are intended to carry out specific goals. These are a will, living will, medical power of attorney, durable power of attorney, and/or a trust.
It is important to remember that planning your estate is a continuing process. Changes in your financial affairs and changes in your family may make it necessary to change and update your estate planning documents. You should review your will and other documents at least once every two or three years to determine if they still accurately reflect your situation and goals. In addition, if you experience a major change in your finances or family you should also review your will and other documents.
In summary, estate planning is your opportunity to make decisions regarding your property and finances. By planning your estate and communicating your decisions with your loved ones, you will be lessening the conflicts and difficulties that they may encounter later.