What is an estate? It is the sum total of all the property a person owns or controls and all other monies generated on the person’s death.
Simply put, your estate is the sum total of all your worldly possessions. It includes real estate (land and buildings), personal possessions (cars, furniture, jewelry, etc.), bank accounts, insurance policies and businesses in which you own an interest as well as debts and obligations.
Estate planning involves creating an action plan for using, preserving and disposing of your possessions to ensure that you, or your designees, receive the maximum benefit from all that you acquire over the course of your lifetime. A good estate plan:
- minimizes estate taxes and fees
- assigns guardianship for your minor children
- includes a health care directive that accommodates your wishes
- coordinates and stipulates what happens to your home, investments, business, life insurance, 401K/403B and other assets in the event of death or disability
- provides for a Power of Attorney
- ensures regulatory compliance with applicable state and federal law
- is integrated with your financial plan
Good estate planning is much more than a Will or a Health Proxy. It is a complex, ever-changing world of rules and regulations that require specialized skills to understand. Unless you are well versed in tax law, business law, elder law, wills, trusts and probate… it is best to seek professional counsel.