Understanding the Importance of Estate Planning

People generally don’t give much thought to their own deaths while they are alive. But when it comes down to the inevitable, not planning properly for estate management and distribution can place a tremendous strain on a grieving family due to money lost to avoidable taxes, excessive legal fees, demands on their time, and stress.
When planning for old age, disability, and death, most people have four goals:
1. If they become disabled, they want to avoid losing the assets they’ve spent a lifetime building to a few years of health care costs.

2. When they die, they want to be sure of exactly who will receive which assets from their estate.

3. They want things to be easy for their family; e.g., they want to pass on their property easily, quickly, and without high legal fees.

4. They don’t want to pay any more taxes than necessary (e.g., they want to avoid or minimize state and federal death taxes.)
An estate plan protects your estate from heavy expenses and other undesired outcomes, while the absence of a solid estate plan puts each of these goals in jeopardy. By creating an estate planning portfolio, you can rest assured that if you become disabled, and when you die, your estate will be handled to your precise specifications.
Soon you’ll be acquainted with everything you need to know to make sound legal decisions about your—and your family’s— financial security. Specifically, you’ll learn:

Your four primary options for long-term planning
• The five least desirable outcomes of poor planning
• How to protect your assets if you become incapacitated and/or must enter a nursing home
• How an Estate Planning Portfolio can protect your estate from heavy expenses
Some of the laws I review pertain no matter where you live, but some are specific to the state where I practice: Massachusetts. Be sure to find out what state laws apply to your own estate.

Before we get into these topics, there are a few basics you’ll need to understand.