What is Estate Planning?

A young dad puts up a picture where his kids.

Estate planning is organizing and managing your assets and documenting your wishes to ensure your estate is handled according to your wishes upon death.

A good estate plan should consider your financial situation, goals, personal and family circumstances, and estate and inheritance taxes. It may involve creating a will, trust, power of attorney, and advanced medical directive.

The goal is to ensure your wishes are respected and minimize potential tax implications and other costs.

Estate Planning 101: The Basics

Families at every income level can incorporate estate plans into their financial affairs. Here are some estate planning questions to consider as you get started.

Estate Planning Checklist: 10 Steps to Help You Prepare

Our estate planning checklist can help you think about how to structure an estate plan in the event of an unexpected death or life-threatening illness. Consider these steps when you start your estate planning.

End-of-life planning is crucial even though it can be daunting, and revisiting plans is often only necessary in certain circumstances such as changes in financial status or personal relationships. Seeking professional help to ensure wishes are accurately expressed and all relevant issues are considered when making an estate plan.

What Are the Different Types of Trusts?

There are several types of trusts, and understanding them may help you choose the right one. Learn the common types to determine which is the best for you.

What Is a Living Trust?

Making estate planning decisions may have you wondering what a living trust is and how it differs from a will. Check out how living trusts operate and some factors to consider before deciding if one is right for you.

What Is a Charitable Trust?

A charitable trust could offer many financial advantages for individuals. Explore the basics and benefits of charitable trusts and find out if one is right for your needs.

What Is a Spendthrift Trust?

A spendthrift trust is one way to help your loved ones manage their inheritance. Learn what to consider if you're leaving money to support your family.

Wills vs. Trusts

Wills and trusts are two different tools for estate planning, but they work differently. Learn about each of them, plus some of the similarities and differences between the two estate planning forms.

What Is a Will?

Without a last will and testament, your wishes aren't legally binding. Learn more about what a will is and how you should start one.

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a document that outlines your end-of-life healthcare preferences in the event of your incapacity. To ensure that you receive the type of medical care you desire, learn how to draft and execute a living will.

Is Probate Necessary for All Wills?

Probate is a common legal process required for some assets to transfer to beneficiaries, but it can be time-consuming and expensive. In cases where the beneficiary is clear, it may be possible to avoid probate, and estate planning can help with this.

What Does an Estate Executor Do?

What do you do if someone names you as their estate executor? Learn about an estate plan's importance and the executors' fundamental responsibilities.

What Happens If I Die Without a Will?

The outcome of dying without a will is determined by the state you live in. It takes into account marital status and whether you have any children. Learn more about what happens when you don't have a will when you die.

Understanding Power of Attorney

If you don't have one in place now, you may not be able to designate someone when you are unable to. Learn more about what a power of attorney is, the different types, and whom you might choose as your agent.

Healthcare Proxy vs. Power of Attorney

A healthcare proxy and power of attorney are two legal documents you should consider. Learn a few reasons why you might want either or both.

Estate Tax vs. Inheritance Tax

The difference between estate and inheritance tax is significant, and understanding how each works may help you plan. Learn about the basics and what are the differences between the two.

5 Considerations When Leaving Money to Grandchildren

As you get older, it's natural to start thinking about the financial well-being of your youngest family members. Learn how to address your grandchildren's financial needs without inviting any unnecessary legal challenges or tax burdens.

Strategies for Avoiding Family Inheritance Disputes

Planning ahead can help prevent family inheritance disputes, especially if the terms are unclear or beneficiaries are surprised by the stipulations. Here are strategies to help minimize inheritance-related friction, both while the loved one is alive and after their passing.

Why Is Family Estate Planning Important?

Considering your future financial plans can greatly benefit you and your loved ones, offering both financial and emotional advantages. By taking small steps towards family estate planning, you can gain significant benefits and insights into the advantages of proactive action.

How Does a Prepaid Funeral Work?

A prepaid funeral can be part of your estate plan. Learn more about what it is and how to start saving.

Help Preserve the Legacy You Leave

Your decisions today will determine the legacy you leave for the people who matter most to you. Learn more about giving more of what you save, protecting a lifetime of savings, and charitable giving.

Help Create a Legacy That Lasts With Charitable Giving

Choosing the right charitable giving strategy involves considering factors such as the charity's needs, tax benefits, and family's financial situation. Different strategies like lifetime gifts, charitable lead trusts, private foundations, and life insurance policies offer varying advantages.

Want to Maximize Your Charitable Giving Impact?

Are you taking advantage of a charitable giving strategy that lets you and the charities you support get the most out of what you give? Learn more about the charitable giving strategies that could give you the best of all worlds, from tax advantages to flexibility.

Estate Planning for Parents

Discussing estate planning with parents can be uncomfortable, but it's an important conversation to have because death is inevitable. After witnessing the struggles of friends whose fathers lacked estate plans, the author realized the importance of having this conversation with their own parents.

Estate Planning for Pets

Pets provide unconditional love and companionship, making it important to plan for their care in the event of your death. Although pets cannot be named as beneficiaries in wills or life insurance policies, there are ways to include them in end-of-life planning.

The Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax: What You Should Know

The generation-skipping transfer tax applies to substantial gifts made to grandchildren or anyone else who is at least 37 1/2 years younger than the giver. Congress created this tax in 1976 to prevent individuals and couples from minimizing or avoiding estate taxes.

What Happens to Debt After Death?

Understanding what happens to debt after death is important for those with debt or considering estate planning. Learning the facts can help in planning for the future of your family.

What to Do With an Inheritance: A 6-Step Checklist

Inheriting money from a loved one can be used to honor their memory by putting it to good use, but without a clear plan, the money may not be used effectively. A checklist is available to provide guidance for those who need help in getting started with making the most out of their inheritance.

6 Strategies for Protecting Elderly Parents' Assets

Initiating discussions about your elderly parents' needs and wishes before any health issues arise can help protect their assets and financial well-being.

Don't leave the future of your assets and wishes to chance. Take control of your future and help protect your loved ones by starting your estate plan today!

Contact a financial advisor to discuss your options and create a personalized plan that fits your unique needs and goals. Take action now and to help ensure a secure future for yourself and your loved ones.

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