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Don’t forget to fund your trust

Setting up a trust to handle your assets during your lifetime is one element of a good estate plan. A living trust gives instructions as to how your assets should be managed during your life and provides instructions on how they are to be distributed after your death. While the establishment of a trust is an important step, it is critical to remember to fund your trust on a regular …

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Probate is the court-supervised process through which your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries and loved ones. The probate process applies to estates both with and without wills, and it can be smooth and orderly or contentious depending on whether or not family members are fighting over assets you have not specified beneficiaries for. There are some ways to avoid probate, a process that can be expensive and time consuming, …

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If you own a business, whether you are a sole proprietor or own jointly with partners, it is important that you take into consideration how you want your business and its assets to be handled when you are no longer able to contribute to its maintenance and growth. You may want your business to be liquidated upon your death and have the resulting assets distributed to your loved ones as …

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When thinking about estate planning it can be easy to assume that the transfer of your assets and property will proceed exactly the way you imagine without any contention or unexpected issues. Perhaps you think you know how your children, spouse or business partner will behave when you are no longer with them. Or, maybe you believe they know you well enough to be able to guess exactly what your …

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While a Will is an essential part of any estate plan, there are some additional ways in which you may supplement your will by transferring assets directly to your beneficiaries. Assets that are eligible to be transferred directly include: • Life insurance proceeds. • Retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and IRAs. • Trustee accounts such as those created by a revocable living trust. • Transfer on death (or TOD) securities …

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Estate planning should take into account all possible scenarios; one of which is the unlikely and unfortunate event that you should leave behind children under the age of 18. If this were to happen, you would want to make sure that the property they inherit is protected. An adult should be named to manage any money and property your minor children inherit. You may choose to give this responsibility to …

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Planning for estate taxes

Currently, the estate tax exemption is set at $2 million. This means that you may leave up to $2 million in assets to your heirs after your death tax free. In 2009, that amount will increase to $3.5 million, and in 2010 the tax is scheduled to be repealed completely. Then, the exemption will revert back to $1 million in 2011. When planning for taxes as a part of your …

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A good estate plan contains many different elements, and as a result it is important to take an organized approach to starting the process. Answering some basic questions can help get your estate planning moving smoothly: • Who is going to take care of your loved ones and minor children? • Will your loved ones be financial stable? • What is the value of your assets and who do you …

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We all have certain things, like banking records, that we hide away to protect them from predators who might wish to access them and cause us harm. Chances are that you have a variety of confidential records hidden away in safes or safety deposit boxes or filed electronically and password protected. While you may have all this information carefully stored away in the confines of your memory banks, it is important to remember that there will come a time when someone else, like the executor of your estate, will need access to that information.

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Review Your Will Regularly

If you have already done the necessary work of drafting a Will, it is important to remember to review it regularly. Most people seldom bother to review their Wills, causing them to pass up the chance to make any changes and ensure that the document is still an accurate reflection of their wishes. While it may seem easier to tuck your will away and forget about it once it is written, this strategy ignores the fact that circumstances change.

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