What should I have in my estate plan?

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the two things in life that are certain are death and taxes.  Well, here’s a third.  If you own assets and do not have a private estate plan, then you still have a state estate plan.  This means that if you do not have an estate plan in place, upon your death your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law.  The court’s decisions may or may not be to your liking, or in the best interest of your loved ones but hey, you’ll be gone anyway!

On a more serious note, creating an estate plan need not be complicated if you have professional assistance.  If you are serious about planning for your loved ones after you pass then you should get an estate planning attorney to help you sort through the legal and financial issues. For example, should you establish a will, a trust or both?  Who will take care of your children if both parents die?  Should you involve your heirs in your planning process?  These issues can be emotionally charged and are best sorted out with the assistance of a professional estate planning attorney.  Further, be sure to review your plan regularly, as lives tend to take many twists and turns and estate laws vary by state.

Here is an interesting article to get you started, Twelve Estate Planning Questions That Might Make You Squirm.  I don’t particularly care for the title but the author makes some interesting points.  Do you have any advice or articles you’d like to share about estate planning?  Your comments are welcomed.