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Estate planning: Special considerations for your estate

Almost everyone in Texas has probably heard about wills, trusts and estate plans. For some people, those terms are equated with a person who is wealthy or a person who has considerable assets. That, however, isn't the case. You don't have to be wealthy to have an estate.

The term estate refers to anything of value that you have. While it does include bank accounts and real estate, those aren't the only components of an estate. Your estate also includes Social Security benefits, investments, pensions, furniture and cars. All of these types of personal property should be allocated in your estate plan.

When making your estate plan, you have to consider how an inheritance will affect the beneficiary. One man, for example, has a disabled daughter. When he passes away, he doesn't want her inheritance to affect her disability income. Considerations like that can make estate planning a little more difficult.

That isn't the end of proper estate planning. You have to consider how life will change if you are unable to care for yourself. You also have to consider what will happen to your family and the items in your estate plan when you are gone. More than likely, you don't want your heirs to have to deal with any type of burden when dealing with your estate plan.

You can leave directives for your doctors so they know what types of medical treatment you want to accept and what types you wish to deny. You can designate someone as your health care power of attorney to make medical decisions for you. Your estate plan can also include a power of attorney to deal with your financial affairs.

Coming up with a fair estate plan for your heirs requires a lot of thought. It also involves knowing some of the specifics of laws in Texas that govern wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other estate planning documents. Having a good understanding of these concepts and coming up with a plan that outlines all of your wishes can give you peace of mind. It also gives your heirs peace of mind because they know exactly what you want them to do.

Source: Mail Tribune, "Don't have an estate? It still pays to plan as if you do" Pamela Yip, May. 18, 2014

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