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Will & estate planning

By making your plans now, you help ensure your decisions will be carried out and your affairs will be settled in an orderly way after you’re gone.
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Why do you need an estate plan?
One of the most common misconceptions about estate planning is that only the wealthiest people living on sprawling estates benefit. That couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is, if you own assets and personal property, you already have an estate worth leaving to your family.

Estate planning can be considered a true gift to your loved ones. It helps them carry out your wishes after you’re gone.

With an estate plan:
  • You choose which beneficiaries receive your assets.
  • You can incorporate valuable tools that may help your estate avoid probate.
  • Your advanced care directive communicates your treatment decisions to family and health care professionals.

4 essential tools of estate planning

These four tools are some of the most common components of an estate plan and will help ensure your final decisions are carried out after you’re gone.
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Create a will
A will is a legal document you use to name one or more people to manage your estate and perform detailed distribution of your property at death.

Your will gives you the option to nominate a guardian for your minor children and include specific instructions for their care in the event of your death. It may also contain your wishes for a memorial service, your decisions about burial, and details about how your cherished possessions and keepsakes should be distributed to loved ones.
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Establish power of attorney
A power of attorney is a written document that identifies who will make financial, legal and tax decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make them yourself.

Generally, a power of attorney is established while you are legally competent. All rights to act under a power of attorney end at the time of your death. Without a power of attorney document, the court may have to appoint a conservatorship or guardian if you are unable to do so yourself.
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Enact a living will
A living will, also known as an advanced care directive, communicates your medical treatment preferences in situations when you may not be capable of making your own care decisions. It tells your family and health care professionals how far you want your treatment to go, should you become seriously ill.
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Design a trust
A trust is a legal agreement that helps you control your property and other assets while you are alive and after you have died. Trusts may also be used to help your estate avoid probate.

There are different types of trusts and arrangements that can be made within trusts. Because of the complex nature of trusts and their potential impact upon your estate plan, it is essential to seek the assistance of an attorney when establishing one. An attorney can go through the steps to ensure your trust is created according to your needs and desires.

Will & Estate Planning Guide

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This workbook-style guide walks you through the early steps of creating your will and setting up an estate plan. With fill-in-the-blank forms, answers to commonly asked questions and a glossary of terms, our 46-page guide can be used to help start the conversation with your estate planning professional.

Order your free copy of our Will & Estate Planning Guide
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