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‘Step-by-step’ approach can ease estate planning

Posted May 06, 2015 in Advice Column, Urbandale

Like many people, you may enjoy investing. After all, it can be invigorating to put away money for your future.  However, you might be less excited about doing estate planning, dreading the perceived time, effort and cost. You can make the entire process more manageable by breaking it up into specific tasks.

What are these tasks?

Purchase life insurance. If something were to happen to you, would your family be able to stay in the house? Would your children be able to go to college? You may consider working with a financial professional who can evaluate your assets, goals and family situation, and then recommend an appropriate level of coverage.

Draw up your will. A will is probably the most essential estate-planning document. Regardless of the size of your estate, you need a will to ensure that your assets and personal belongings will be distributed according to your wishes. If you die intestate (without a will), your belongings will be distributed to your “heirs” as defined by state laws, and these distributions may not be at all what you had in mind.

Consider a living trust. You may also need to go beyond a will when drawing up your estate plans. For example, you might want to create a living trust, which can allow your assets to go directly to your heirs, avoiding the public, time-consuming and expensive process of probate.

Check beneficiary designations. The beneficiary designations on your insurance policies and retirement accounts are powerful and can even supersede the instructions left in your will. It’s in your best interest to make sure you’ve got the right people listed as your beneficiaries. Over time, you may need to update these designations to reflect changes in your family situation.

Make final arrangements. Whenever you pass away, it will be a stressful time for your loved ones. To ease their burden, consider establishing a “payable-on-death” account at your bank, and then funding this account to pay for your funeral and related expenses.

Share your plans. Share your plans with your loved ones and heirs. It’s important that everyone knows their roles in carrying out your wishes.

When dealing with any estate-planning issues, you’ll want to consult with your legal and tax professionals. And by taking a step-by-step approach, you can keep the process moving forward without feeling that you’re being overwhelmed

Information provided by your local Edward Jones offices.

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