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Estate Plan. Do you have one?

Posted by Shanna Tingom, AAMS® on Nov 9, 2021 7:53:00 AM

After working hard and building a little wealth, it's incumbent on you to do what's necessary to protect that which you have accumulated. There are several ways you can protect your wealth, including making wise investments that will help your nest egg grow.

As you contemplate how to grow and protect your wealth in the future, you should always have your eye on retirement. The last thing you want to experience is establishing a pleasant standard of living, only to have to live with less in your golden years. 

The rest of this discussion is going to focus on estate planning. With an estate plan, you can take steps to protect your wealth for the benefit of the family members you would be leaving behind when you pass. 

What is an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is a legal process by which you would premake decisions about your assets and loved ones. These are decisions that would be carried out by your attorney or executor with the full support of the court system should you ever become incapacitated or pass away. 

An estate plan can be used to do several things, including:

  • Directing the distribution of your assets to your survivors
  • By whom and how you wish for your minor children to have cared 
  • Helps avoid the probate process unless the circumstances are very complicated
  • Dictates who can make medical decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated
  • Dictates how you wish for your body to be handled after you have passed away

Why You Should Establish an Estate Plan

An estate plan allows you the opportunity to legally protect your estate in the worst of circumstances. If you were to pass away without an estate plan or a will in place, there is no telling what would become of your assets, children, or yourself for that matter. 

As long as you are of sound mind and body right now, you might want to seriously think about creating your estate plan before it's too late. 

It's kind of a three-step process. It starts with you earning money through work or a career. As you start to accumulate a little wealth, you need to take that wealth and invest it. Investing is the only realistic way you have to help grow your money. As indicated earlier, your investments should always be greed towards building financial resources you can use in retirement. When you have a net worth, you need to take that third step and protect it for your loved ones. 

How to Create an Estate Plan

Since creating an estate plan has both financial and legal consequences, you need to do it correctly. 

Should you choose to do so, you always have the option of hiring an attorney or accountant to help you create an estate plan. While you don’t need to do so, it would provide an extra layer of confidence that the process is being handled properly.

If you wish to go it alone, here is a list of steps you would want to take to prepare your own estate plan:

  • Prepare a will for the distribution of assets and the appointment of an executor
  • Name beneficiaries for assets that aren't covered in your will
  • Research and implement strategies to help avoid estate taxes
  • Prepare personal letters to loved ones to be distributed after your demise
  • Appoint someone to have a durable power of attorney status over your legal and financial affairs
  • Create a healthcare directive for medical emergencies

After reading the aforementioned information, you should be able to see how important an estate plan would be to your family. While alive, you can protect your assets and health. When you are gone, your family will appreciate you had the forethought to help guide them without you.