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The basic components of an estate plan

Some people avoid the topic of estate planning because they think it is morbid. Why would you spend time thinking about what could happen to your property after death? Well, perhaps the biggest reason to think about estate planning is to consider the impact that passing on your assets to heirs and beneficiaries will have on those people's lives. When it comes to estate planning, the biggest step is to just get started.

So, what are the basics of an estate plan? Well, a recent article covered several of the documents that will likely make up the contents of comprehensive estate plans in Pennsylvania. For starters, there is the will. A will is a document that delineates how your assets will be distributed after you die. In some cases, specific items of property are noted, while in others, the will may delineate percentages of the estate to be passed on to specific people.

But, estate plans don't have to stop there. Besides a will, some estate plans will include trusts as well. As the recent article noted, trusts can be especially helpful when one of your estate planning goals is to avoid probate of a will.

Lastly, estate plans aren't always all about planning for death. As part of the estate planning process, many Pennsylvania residents will also have power of attorney documents drafted. These types of documents dole out the power to make important decisions to others in the event of incapacitation. Those who are empowered by power of attorney documents can usually make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Source:, "ESTATE PLANNING: The basics of everyday estate planning," Robert D. Schwartz, Aug. 31, 2017

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