What You Need to Know About Estate Planning

by William Smith - Date: 2006-12-08 - Word Count: 617 Share This!

Most of us don't like to think about estate planning. It seems morbid to think about our demise, so we sweep it under the rug and don't prepare ourselves and our families for the worst. However, without estate planning, your family will have to deal with a trip to probate court.

Your loved ones will have enough to deal with, so take care of your planning and you'll be doing them a big favor.

Can I Use Estate Planning Software?

If you check your local computer store, you can usually find several versions of planning software. You may wonder, though, are they legally binding?

Will the information be applicable to my state and my situation? The good news is that estate planning software has never been more easy to use. Often, you simply start the program, answer a series of questions, and the necessary documents are prepared, ready to print. However, you should still have all documents checked by an attorney.

Even with an attorney's fee, you can still save a lot of money with planning software. The time it takes the lawyer to review your documents will be very short compared to having original papers drawn up.

With software prices getting lower every day, you can find a good estate planning program for less than $50 at most stores where software is sold.

What Do I Need Besides a Will?

Assuming that you are over 21, you will need a health care proxy and a durable power of attorney. Find these forms in your planning software, or ask your lawyer.

They will save you a lot of time in case of an emergency medical situation. These documents shouldn't need to be updated unless something drastic happens, such as the person that you chose to have power of attorney passes away, but you should review your will every few years. Laws governing estate planning can change frequently.

Make sure to update your will any time there is a marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, birth or adoption of children, or a move to another state. Make sure the changes are made to your will as soon as possible.

For example, you wouldn't want a child deprived of his or her inheritance, or your ex-spouse to gain control of your estate. These examples should help you see why proper planning is so important!

Try to be disciplined and not allow more than a month to go by after important events before you update your will as needed.

What Else Is Involved in Estate Planning?

When handling your planning, you want to be sure not to miss any steps. Whether you use estate planning software or have an attorney handle the necessary documents, you'll want to take great care to make sure that all the proprieties are observed.

Make sure that your will is witnessed by the correct number of people. Also, none of your witnesses should be your beneficiaries. Ascertain that you have a named executor, and that this person is willing and able to handle your estate when needed.

Some of the planning choices that you'll need to make will be personal, such as guardianships for your children, and some will be pure business, such as how to handle your stake in your family's company.

When it comes to estate planning, each and every decision is important to your loved ones' futures. Don't allow your distaste at the subject of planning to keep you from handling this task as soon as possible. If you've never done any planning like this, start today.

If you've had all of your pertinent estate planning finished for years, have it reviewed. It's just too vital to be put off another day. Think of your family and get going!

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