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Estate planning is more than just wills

Orlando residents may be uncomfortable with the idea of planning for their death, but estate planning is essential to making someone's wishes known as well as making the process easier for someone's heirs. Estate planning is not limited to wills and dealing with an individual's passing. It can also ensure that someone has a plan of action for if they are incapacitated and unable to care or make decisions for themselves.

Nearly everyone should have a will, a trust or both. A will determines who will get which assets, but it is not able to deal with taxes or liability issues. A trust can handle these financial issues, but a will is still required to determine who will care for minor children if neither parent is able to do so. It is important to note that a will does not override beneficiary designations for things like retirement accounts. If someone has named an individual as a beneficiary, it will go to that person, no matter what is in their will.

Adults of all ages should also have an advanced medical directive, and a power of attorney may also be a good idea. An advanced medical directive determines who will make choices about someone's medical care if they are not able to. Similarly, a power of attorney gives a trusted individual the ability to make financial choices for those who can't.

Estate planning can be as simple or complex as an individual requires, but it is important to have these documents in place so that friends and family are aware of someone's wishes. A lawyer could explain how these documents work as well as help them draw up the appropriate documents.

Source: FOX Business, "Documents that Should be Part of Everyone’s Estate Plans", Andrea Murad, September 04, 2013

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