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How to protect your assets when creating an estate plan

When a person is suffering from a serious illness or injury, it can be an extremely challenging time for family and friends. They may be aware that their loved one is about to pass on, and often this leaves a family feeling helpless when there is nothing that they can do to prevent this from happening. During these difficult times, the family of the deceased will have a lot of things that they need to address.

Fortunately, many people take the time to create an estate plan that discusses what should happen to their assets if they should pass away. These documents, such as wills or trusts, can carefully explain which individuals should receive certain property. If no estate plan is in place, property will pass according to statute, which might mean that some beneficiaries are left out.

However, even when an estate plan is drafted, problems can still arise for those left behind. These documents are created at a very specific time in a person's life. If anything changes after the plans are made, individuals must take steps to update these documents.

For example, if a person gets a divorce or gets remarried, their documents must be reflective of these facts. If they have additional children or stepchildren, it is important that their estate plan state the property that each beneficiary should receive. If any of their intended beneficiaries pass away, the wills may also need to be updated as well.

Additionally, when creating or modifying an estate plan, it is important to understand some of the ways that you can protect some of your assets. Federal and state estate taxes can take up a sizable amount of an estate if it is passed down improperly, and they are seemingly always changing.

There are certain exceptions to these taxes, such as transfers to spouses or trusts for children, and an experienced attorney can help ensure that these exceptions are accounted for when documents are being drafted.

Do not neglect to review your estate plan periodically. If you fail to take these preventative steps, you may leave behind a will or trust that causes your family significant problems.

Speak to an experienced estate planning attorney about the plan that you have in place. Whether you are creating brand new documents or updating old ones, it is important that your final wishes are clearly expressed. An attorney can inform you of the things that you need to do to ensure that your assets are protected and passed on to the intended beneficiaries.

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