Wednesday, 10 November 2010 22:44
Most of us work hard throughout our lives, and hope that what we’ve earned continues to provide benefits after we’re gone. Whether you want to help your children or grandchildren, or whether you’d like to see your hard-earned savings help a cause that’s important to you, you’ll be more likely to achieve those goals if you take some time to plan.
It’s for everyone. There’s a misconception that estate planning is something for wealthy people. But everybody has an estate, and many people’s lives can be affected if an individual is disabled or dies prematurely. For example, young children will be affected by their mother’s death whether she had $10 in the bank or $10 million. Many senior citizens will need some help in making decisions about medical care, or in handling day-to-day financial affairs. Comprehensive estate planning will address all aspects of your life and legally empower the people you trust to help you when or if it becomes necessary.
Tax planning. Think you don’t have enough assets to worry about estate taxes? You might be surprised. Combine the value of your home with the proceeds of your life insurance policies and what you’ve saved, and you may have enough for your estate to be taxed. Estate planning can make sure that more of what you’ve earned passes on to your loved ones, rather than to the government.
Trusts may help. Many people should consider the value of living trusts. While they’re often viewed as a way to minimize taxes, they’re really more about extending your influence and control. For example, if you have a loved one with special needs, a trust may help ensure that he or she receives the care you prefer. A trust can protect the legacy of your children from your first marriage if you remarry. And, if you’re concerned that your heirs may not be able to manage money, a trust can provide ongoing financial guidance.