Planning an estate is one of the most important decisions you can make for yourself and for your family members. Despite its importance, estate planning is often considered a low priority by many people, even as they age. Creating a proper estate plan can make the difference between having your assets and other property distributed as you wish, versus having a court make decisions that may not reflect your intentions. It’s never too early to begin to plan, and people who do so early on have the advantage of becoming more knowledgeable about estate laws over time.

Your “estate” consists of all property owned by you at the time of your death, including:

  • Real estate,
  • Bank accounts,
  • Stocks and other securities,
  • Life insurance policies, and
  • Personal property such as automobiles, jewelry, and artwork.


Regardless of your age, or the size and complexity of your estate, an estate plan can accomplish the following:

  • Identify the family members and other loved ones that you wish to receive your property after your death.
  • Ensure that your property will be transferred to those you have identified, as quickly and with as few legal hurdles as possible.
  • Minimize the amount of taxes that will need to be paid in order for your property to pass to others after your death.
  • Avoid the time and costs associated with the probate process by utilizing estate planning devices like living trusts and “payable on death” bank accounts.
  • Dictate the kinds of life-prolonging medical care you wish to receive should you be unable to make your wishes known when the time comes.
  • Set forth the kind of funeral arrangements you would like, and how related expenses are to be paid.

Estate planning