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Practice Definitions - Estate Planning
Estate Planning
Estate Planning is more than just a simple Will. It also typically protects your wealth and assets by minimizing potential taxes and fees, sets up contingency planning to make sure your wishes regarding health care treatment are followed, manages and administers your estate and appropriately distributes your assets to your intended heirs.

On the financial side, a good estate plan coordinates what would happen with your home, your investments, your business, your life insurance, your employee benefits-such as a 401(k) plan or Investment Retirement Account (IRA)-and other property in the event you became disabled, incompetent or if you die.

On the personal side, a good estate plan includes directions to carry out your wishes regarding health care matters, so that if you ever are unable to give the directions yourself, someone you select would do that for you, and know when you would want them to authorize heroic measures and when you would prefer that life sustaining machines be shut down (pull the plug).
Should I hire a lawyer?
Only an attorney who regularly practices in the fields of wills, trusts, probate and estate planning is able to provide you with really sound legal advice as you put your estate plan into place. Attorneys are subject to regulation by state bar organizations, many of which have continuing education requirements and mandatory liability insurance in case the lawyer makes a mistake. When you speak with an attorney, you can get answers to your questions-including how much it would cost. Often the expense incurred in retaining an attorney to prepare and help you put an estate plan into place is worth hundreds of times what you and your family would pay with no planning or poor planning. It would also avoid the financial and emotional nightmares that can occur with a poorly drafted (or improper) plan. Use the State Lawyers Directory to find a qualified estate planning lawyer that best suits your needs.

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