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The nuts and bolts of estate planning

Estate planning should be on your mind. With the holiday season in full swing, many people in Pennsylvania will be thinking the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Everyone likes to give and receive presents, but there is one gift that can do more than just put a smile on your loved ones' faces during the holidays: an estate plan, which is a gift that puts the planner's mind at ease and makes the process of passing on assets much simpler for family members.

A recent report provided some of the details and basics of an estate plan - the "nuts and bolts," if you will. First and foremost, the article provided a point that has been made in previous posts here: everyone needs to have an estate plan. Estate plans are not just for the "rich" or those who have complex assets to pass on. Most people do not really grasp the extent of their assets until they really sit down and examine them, which is part of the estate planning process.

It is important to understand what documents make up an estate plan. First, most estate plans will include a Last Will and Testament, which dictates who receives what assets and appoints an executor of the estate. Next, estate planning will usually include power of attorney documents, which appoint another person to make important decisions - such as financial or healthcare decisions - if the planner is incapacitated and unable to do so. Lastly, most people will prepare a living will, which details what end-of-life medical procedures the planners prefer, if any, when they are unable to give those instructions for themselves.

Estate planning is an important issue for Pennsylvania residents to address. During the holiday season, when surrounded by loved ones and close friends, it can be easy to think about how estate planning can make things easier for these individuals.

Source:, "Wallet Wednesday: Basics of Estate Planning," Brandon Herring, Nov. 29, 2017

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