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October observance reminds of the importance of estate planning

Halloween isn't the only observance that occurs in October. National Estate Planning Awareness Week also takes place this month. This observance serves to raise awareness of the importance of addressing issues regarding the management and dispersal of assets after one's death.

Creating a thorough estate plan is one of the biggest favors you can do for your family. Your plan can clearly delineate your wishes, thus sparing your family the arduous and sometimes contentious task of dividing your property and other assets.

In order to craft an effective state plan, there are a number of documents that require your consideration, including:

  • Your will, which is the core of your estate plan. Without a will, your property will be disbursed in accordance with state laws, rather than your specifications.
  • A letter of instruction, which is a confidential, non-binding document attached to your will. This letter can contain your personal thoughts and directions.
  • A living trust, which places your property in a separate legal entity. Assets contained in a living trust are not subject to the expensive and time-consuming probate process.
  • Advanced medical directives, which provide instructions regarding your medical care if you are unable to express your desires yourself.

This is just a very brief overview of some of the key documents that comprise an all-encompassing estate plan. Each of these documents will contain details that are specific to you and you alone.

No two estate plans are identical, which is why it is so important to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you make sure that the fruits of your life's labor are managed to your satisfaction upon your passing.

Source: Forbes, "5 Documents You Need To Avoid Costly Estate Planning Errors," Peter Lazaroff, Oct. 16, 2016

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