Friday, July 27, 2012

Learning the Basics of Estate Planning

Like many legal tools, estate planning can seem like a mystery to most people. But when used properly, it can be a very valuable tool for people from all walks of life. You don't need to have a huge estate or billions of dollars in the bank to benefit from a well-made estate plan. So here I've decided to write about some of the basic things you'll need to know about wills, trusts, and the rest of the gang. Hopefully, this will give you a clearer idea of what it's all about and how you can use it to your advantage.
Let's start with some of the most basic questions about this legal invention.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning refers to the process of establishing arrangements for the management and disposal of your properties in anticipation of death or disability. It employs a number of devices, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney - all of which are used to give you some degree of control over decisions that others might make involving your estate or your medical treatment in instances wherein you are no longer capable of making those decisions yourself.
What do I need to do?
There are some differences between states when it comes to the devices that you may use for your estate plan. In California, for example, you can use what is called an advance health care directive which will outline your instructions for your future health care. Other states, on the other hand, may use a "living will" in place of an advance health care directive.
Each device needs to conform to specific legal requirements that are set by each state, and it's absolutely crucial to comply with such requirements otherwise your will or other estate planning device might be considered as invalid. Because of the many differences and requirements, it's very important, therefore, to get quality legal assistance in the preparation of your will or living trust.
When should I start?
A number of people mistakenly believe that they only need to plan their estate when they're already approaching old age or have been diagnosed with a serious illness. The truth is that it's never too early to start building your estate plan. Many unforeseen events such as disasters and accidents can happen at any time, and it's best to have an estate plan as early as possible. This is especially true when you already have young children and other loved ones depending on you for support.
At the end of the day, estate planning is vital for your own peace of mind. A well-built estate plan will give you the assurance that your loved ones will be properly supported should anything happen to you. It will also help you ensure that decisions regarding your property and your health will be made in accordance with your own wishes and plans.

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