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Action steps will get estate planning process up and running

In most cases, changes in tax laws have lessened the need to make tax planning the main focus of an estate plan. Other issues have more importance to most people. Regardless of tax planning, there are some basic rules to follow in the estate planning process, whether a person resides in Texas or another state.

Taking action is sometimes the critical need. It's easy to get caught up in an indecisive pattern of procrastination, but that could lead to unfortunate and sometimes disastrous consequences. In such cases, it's best to at least get started, even if it's just to prepare and sign a simple will. Even that small step will set in place the basic foundation upon which the remaining plan can be built.

From the simple will it's easy enough to graduate to preparing a power of attorney as well. The durable power of attorney appoints someone to have authority to sign one's name to checks and basic documents so that bills can be paid and obligations met in the event of mental incapacity. This also saves the expense of one's family having to go into court to have a guardian appointed.

One initial basic step to take is to gather together all of one's legal and financial documents. These will be shared with the in order to share them with the attorney who will prepare the estate planning documents. Things to take to a meeting with the estate planning professional are deeds, mortgages, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, bank accounts, certificates, and any other proof of assets.

Choose executors and trustees who will take an interest in doing the job and who are known for reliability and loyalty. Provide the names of beneficiaries and the percentages each will take. Plan for trusts for those beneficiaries who are minors and specify the beneficiary's age at final distribution.

Whether in Texas or another state, the documents in one's estate planning portfolio are not etched in stone. Anything can be changed while the individual remains alive and competent. Thus, one doesn't have to ruminate about the propriety of choices made. If it becomes clear that a change is needed, simply tell the estate planning professional to revise the appropriate documents accordingly.

Source: Person Liberty Digest, "10 Basic Rules Of Every Estate Plan : Personal Liberty", Bob Carlson, April 28, 2014

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