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December 20, 2012

Is Your Will Up To Date

Wills and trust can be an essential part of financial planning. The planning includes the accumulation, enjoyment, conservation and distribution of your assets. Wills and trust are two of the most common documents used to control the disposition of your assets.

Wills are a legal document that states your intent of how your assets should be disposed of after your death. A will can be changed during your lifetime, assuming you are legally competent, and applies to the situation at the time of your death.

A trust is a legal arrangement in which you transfer property to another (trustee) for the benefit of you and your beneficiaries. There are many types and uses for trusts. Some can be changed, some are effective at the time of a specific event (such as death), and some exist for a specific time period. The powers of the trustee can be crafted to the specific use and purpose of the trust. The trustee is acting on behalf of the person creating the trust and the beneficiaries.

Other estate planning documents include: durable power of attorney, advanced medical directives and letters of instruction. The documents needed depend on the many factors unique to each individual.

It is a good idea to review your will and other documents when you experience a major life event, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a parent, retirement, change in occupation or other significant milestones. Even if there are not any major life events, you should review the documents every few years to see if they still reflect your intent. Changes in the value of your assets and liabilities may require adjustments to the documents. The existence or likelihood of an heir requiring special needs may require changes in the documentations.

Your reviews may indicate that changes may be needed in other areas of your financial planning. Financial planning is not a onetime event. It is a continuous process that requires review and follow-up.
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