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Estate – the word invokes images of sprawling mansions and lavish wealth. That concept, that an estate is only the realm of the rich, has led many people who could benefit from estate planning to avoid it. In actuality, we all have an estate and it’s responsible to plan for what will happen to it once you are gone. Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes an estate and what steps you should be taking to protect yours.
What is an Estate?
A simple definition of an estate is the net worth of a person at any time, whether they are alive or deceased. It can include things like cars, homes, land and personal effects. But it can also include less tangible things such as:
- Legal rights
Perhaps most importantly, it includes the things you owe, as well as the things you own. That means if you die with debt, it’s included in your estate and will need to be settled before your beneficiaries can get what you’ve left them. If you want to leave your loved ones in a good position, the value of estate planning is clear.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning generally refers to asset distribution – that is, how your money and belongings will be distributed, and to whom, when you are gone. But good estate planning should reach beyond those basics. A good estate plan will include things like instructions about healthcare decisions, should you be incapacitated. This and other important instructions will be included in a handful of key documents as part of an estate plan. Those can include:
- A Last Will and Testament – which lets you do things like name who will inherit your assets or take care of your children
- A Living Will – which details the type of healthcare you want if you are no longer able to make decisions
- A Trust – which lets you set aside money for charities and similar organizations
These are just a few of the types of documents included in a strong estate plan. Other important parts of planning for your estate include getting life insurance and learning more about estate taxes.
How to Get Started
Estate planning can be complicated but not overwhelming. Estate planning attorneys are experienced in helping people sort through the process. Your estate planning lawyer in Sacramento will review your assets and discuss your wishes with you to make a plan that you can feel good about. Consult with one today and get started securing your future.
Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and how to know if you need one.