Estate planning is planning for your estate while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after your death. It involves the management of your assets while you are still alive and the distribution of those assets after you die. This planning allows for the orderly administration and disbursement of your estate, and includes taking actions that will minimize taxes and distribute assets to the appropriate heirs.
Your estate consist of all your property, which includes your house and other real estate; tangible personal property; and intangible property, like insurance, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions, etc.
The elements of an estate plan include a will; assignment of power of attorney; a living will or health-care proxy; and for some people, a trust.
When you are setting up an estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:
- Whom do you want to inherit your assets?
- Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you are ever incapacitated?
- Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself?