Back to the Basics: Estate Planning for a “Typical” Family

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is still important for the vast majority of Americans who are not wealthy. After all, after a person has worked his or her entire life to amass all of his or her assets, he or she should seize the opportunity to direct what happens to the assets after his or her death. A recent article discusses five important estate planning maneuvers for the “typical” family (although we are pretty sure there is no such thing as a “typical” family).

Day 73: Kerns family self portrait {about me}
(Photo credit: lorenkerns)
  1. Sign an Advance Health Care Directive: This document allows you to put your wishes in a document to be followed by your doctors, concerning the end-of-life medical care you’d like to receive.
  2. Complete a Durable Power of Attorney, which will allow you to select the person who you would like to take control of your financial affairs, should you become unable to do so.
  3. Execute a Last Will and Testament: This is an important document because it directs the distribution of your assets. Through your will, you designate the guardian for your minor children.
  4. Complete and review your beneficiary designations: These are the designations on policies, such as life insurance, that pass straight to your intended heirs upon your death.
  5. Be sure to consider the impact of property held via joint ownership. Such property is inherited immediately by the joint owner upon your death.
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