Your estate consists of your money and investments, life insurance, your home and other real estate, and your personal property. Your estate also includes your family, your values and the legacy you want to leave, both economically and in terms of your values and life goals and objectives.
Your estate planning goals may include: caring for yourself during lifetime; caring for and protecting your surviving spouse or life partner; caring for and protecting adult and minor children, parents or other relatives; passing on values and ideals to your heirs and incentivizing them to continue your life’s journey; saving money and minimizing taxes; and maintaining control over the property you have worked hard to accumulate.
You estate plan may involve doing nothing (not recommended), owning property jointly (although common, not the best solution), designating beneficiaries for retirement assets and life insurance (getting better), signing a will (even better), and using revocable living trusts in a fully funded comprehensive plan. Your estate planning also should include the use of powers of attorney, advance medical directives (a/k/a health care powers of attorney), living wills (for dealing with end of life issues) and other ancillary documents.