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Are Your Estate Plans Good for Your Family?

May 15 is listed as International Day of Families, so we think there’s no better time than this month to talk about how your estate plans — or lack thereof — can impact your loved ones. This May is a great time to ask yourself if your estate plans are good for your family, and will they help hold your heirs and beneficiaries together if a tragedy should occur?

In answering that question, it’s a good idea to confront some common estate planning myths. For example, estate planning is not just an activity the wealthy should consider. Estate planning, including creating a will, is important for anyone. A will can help your loved ones find closure in knowing that your final wishes were addressed, but it also provides you peace of mind. You can address how assets will be distributed, but you can also address wishes for your legacy or your children.

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Understanding Irrevocable and Revocable Trusts

Revocable and irrevocable trusts are two type of legal estate vehicles that are often used to protect, manage and pass on assets. The reasons you might use a trust include protecting assets against creditors or ensuring your wishes are maintained with regard to use of assets even when you are no longer able to make such wishes known.

A revocable trust is one that you can create and then revoke or change during your life. Sometimes these are referred to as living trusts because you can manage them while you are still living. Usually, the person who creates the trust acts as the first trustee for the trust – that means you would maintain access to and control over the assets transferred into the trust in keeping with the rules of the trust that you set up.

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When Will Validity is Questionable

A will is an important document. In most cases, someone probably took a lot of time to think about his or her future and the future of those he or she loves. A will is the document that records the results of those thoughts. It is what communicates someone’s last wishes regarding themselves, their assets and other issues important to each person. But what happens if you don’t think a will is valid?

There are several reasons someone might contest a will. First, if you think that the will that is being presented could be fraudulent, you’ll want to contest it. You’ll especially want to contest such a will if you have a will or copy of a will that you believe is actually the document your loved one prepared.

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A Revised Estate Plan is Essential When You Remarry

If you are divorced and you remarry, it’s essential to update your estate plan. If you don’t have one, this is the time to take care of it.

When people don’t have an estate plan, their loved ones can end up bearing unnecessary legal fees, not to mention dealing with conflict among family members. When there are ex-spouses, newer spouses and children involved, those conflicts can get very nasty. You can minimize this turmoil by detailing your wishes in estate planning documents.

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Why an Estate Plan is Essential for Single People

Too many single people don’t think that they need an estate plan. However, they should.

A complete estate plan doesn’t just designate how your assets will be distributed after your death. You can and should have documents in place that designate who will see that your wishes are carried out and manage your affairs if you become too incapacitated to do so.

You can also designate who will take care of your financial affairs if you can’t. This will help ensure that your wishes will be known and honored not just after death but if an unexpected illness or injury befalls you that leaves you unable to speak for yourself. That can happen to anyone at any age.

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What Health Care Documents do You Need In Your Estate Plan?

Too many people put off estate planning until it’s too late. Over half of all Americans die without any type of will or estate plan, according to the American Bar Association.

While no one enjoys contemplating what will happen after they die, estate planning is about more than that. It’s a chance for you to document what you want to happen if you become too ill or injured to speak for yourself or make your own decisions. That can happen to anyone at any age.

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