1. Estate Planning: Introduction
  2. Estate Planning: Estate Planning Basics
  3. Estate Planning: Introduction To Wills
  4. Estate Planning: Other Types Of Wills
  5. Estate Planning: Will Substitutes
  6. Estate Planning: Introduction To Trusts
  7. Estate Planning: Marital And Non-Marital Trusts
  8. Estate Planning: Charitable Trusts
  9. Estate Planning: Estate Taxation
  10. Estate Planning: Life Insurance In Estate Planning
  11. Estate Planning: Health Problems, Money Matters And Death
  12. Estate Planning: Conclusion

by Cathy Pareto, CFP®, AIF®

This tutorial covers the basic aspects of estate planning, one of life's most important processes. While you should now be equipped to understand the fundamentals, it is always recommended that you discuss your options with an estate planning attorney or other professional. Mistakes can be costly to your loved ones, and investing in hiring a professional will pay off in the long run for those you leave behind.

Let's take a look at what we've learned:

  • Proper estate planning is the best way to protect your interests and those of your loved ones after your death.
  • Everyone needs an estate plan, not just the wealthy, but larger estates will likely require more complex plans.
  • Key components of any estate plan are a will, one or more trusts, life insurance and a variety of end-of-life documents, such as a living will, powers of attorney, etc.
  • A will is a document that describes how you want your property and owned interests distributed after your death.
  • What constitutes a valid will can vary by state, so it is important to verify your state's regulations before drafting your will.
  • There are several types of will substitutes that can allow you to bypass the probate process, each with advantages and disadvantages.
  • A trust is an agreement that describes how assets will be managed and held for the benefit of another person, and they come in many different forms.
  • A properly set-up trust can create tax benefits for its beneficiaries, especially when it comes to charitable trusts.
  • Life insurance serves as a source of support and liquidity for paying taxes and end-of-life expenses.
Other important end-of-life documents are an advance medical directive, healthcare and financial powers of attorney, a living will and a letter of instruction.

If you have all of these documents in order, you will have peace of mind in knowing that the important people in your life are being properly taken care of.

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