Is you estate in order? |

Is you estate in order?

Charlie Wick and Tina DeWitt

Many of us don’t like to think about

estate planning, because the process

reminds us that we are not going to live

forever. Yet if you want something of

yourself to live on, you should have a

comprehensive estate plan. And the best

time to start your estate planning is many

years before it will likely be needed.

A good estate plan can help you

answer many key questions: Who will

make financial decisions for me if I

become incapacitated? Who will take

care of my kids if I die prematurely?

How will my money and property be

distributed? How can I avoid probate?

Can I reduce, or eliminate, the estate

taxes my heirs may face?

To address these and other concerns,

you will need to work with your tax and

legal professionals to create an estate

plan that is appropriate for your needs.

You will also need to work with a

financial professional to select any

investments that may be needed within

your estate plan. While working with

these people, you may need to consider

the following:

– Ownership titles ” When it’s

time for your estate to be settled, the

ownership of all your assets ” real

estate, securities, retirement accounts,

etc. ” will be an important issue. Your

tax and legal advisors can help you

determine which forms of property

ownership ” such as joint tenancy, sole

ownership and tenants in common “

are suitable for your needs.

– Beneficiary designations ” It’s

obviously important to name

beneficiaries on life insurance policies,

annuities and other financial vehicles.

But many people don’t review their

beneficiary designations periodically “

and that’s a big mistake. If you get

divorced and remarried, or if you have a

new child, you will want to change or add

beneficiaries. If you forget, your family

could go through some major headaches

when it’s time to settle your estate.

– Will ” If you don’t have a will,

your wishes may never be fully

honored, because state law will dictate

how your assets are divided. And if you

have no living relatives, and you die

intestate (without a will), your estate

will go to the state.

– Living Trust ” If you only have a

will, your assets may have to pass

through probate ” which can be time consuming

and expensive. But with a

properly established living trust,

drafted by an experienced attorney,

your assets can pass directly to your

beneficiaries, without court

interference, legal fees, lengthy delays

and public disclosure. Also, a living

trust can give you more precise control

over how ” and when ” you want

your assets distributed.

– Durable General Power of

Attorney ” When you create a durable

general power of attorney, you can

appoint another person to conduct your

business affairs if you are physically or

mentally unable to manage them


– Health Care Directive/Living

Will ” By establishing a health care

directive or living will, you are

providing evidence of your wishes

regarding the administration of life-prolonging

procedures when you are no

longer able to communicate.

Proper Planning Takes Time

It can take months, or even years, to

get your estate plans in the shape you

want ” and you’ll still probably need

to make changes as you progress

through life. So, don’t delay. Get started

on your estate planning soon. It can be

a lot of work ” but it’s worth the effort.

Charlie Wick and Tina DeWitt are Investment Representatives with Edward Jones. They can be reached in Eagle at 328.4959 and in Edwards at 926-1728.

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