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Estate Planning: Starting the Year off Right

The start of the year is a time often associated with taking financial stock. As one prepares for tax season and begins budgeting for the year, January and February provide an ideal period of time for managing a variety of personal financial obligations. One step that you should not skip is creating or updating your estate plan.

On a basic level, estate planning helps to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you die. In addition, executing a power of attorney will ensure that your wishes regarding medical care are known, in the event of accident or illness.

It is easy to think that you shouldn't worry about estate planning until you have reached an advanced age. However, to ensure that any personal property you have is properly entrusted to whomever you choose, you must have a legally solid estate plan in place. In addition, accidents can happen at any stage of life, which means that all adults should have proper power of attorney established.

When contemplating your estate plan, it is important to discuss your decisions with whomever you would like to appoint as your power of attorney. It is also often advised to discuss any property decisions with your family and any others whom the decisions may dramatically affect. This sort of open communication can help your loved ones avoid costly and confusing legal proceedings after you are gone.

Once you have examined your assets and contemplated power of attorney, it is advisable to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer. Given the complexity of the law regarding the construction and execution of estate plans, related taxes and gift rules, the expertise of counsel is ultimately invaluable.

Source: "Get ahead of your estate planning," CNN Money

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