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Why estate planning isn't just for the wealthy

Many people wrongly assume that only very wealthy individuals or those with many assets and belongings need an estate plan. In reality, however, even individuals of modest means likely have sentimental possessions they wish to leave to children, grandchildren or close friends. Depending on an individual’s circumstances, estate planning can mean very different things and an estate plan should be tailored to each individual's unique needs and ultimate goals.

Estate planning can be a complex process. In addition to having a will, many individuals opt to establish one or more trusts as well as take steps to protect from tax liabilities and provide for a child's or grandchild's education needs. There may also be other considerations that an individual may wish to account or plan for in an estate plan such as an intended heir who may have a gambling or substance abuse problem. Whatever the case, an estate planning attorney can help ensure that an estate plan is comprehensive and achieves intended goals.

While few people enjoy contemplating their own mortality, doing so in the form of estate planning can provide clarity and peace of mind. Most individuals begin thinking about estate planning with the birth of a child or when a certain amount of assets are accumulated. In truth, however, it's never too early or late to start taking steps to plan for both one's own financial and physical health as well as those left behind.

Beginning the estate planning process can be overwhelming and forces an individual to take stock of and contemplate both financial and deeply personal issues. An estate planning attorney can help in all estate planning matters by both answering and posing questions and helping ensure the appropriate estate planning documents are in place. 

Source: Orange County Register, "Knowledge Byte: Estate Planning," Brittany Hanson, Jan. 31, 2014

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Weinstein & Randisi - estate planning

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