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Easy steps for creating an estate plan

Estate planning can be a difficult concept for many people in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. However, it may be easier to create a plan by breaking the process into different steps. The first step is to consider who the beneficiaries of the plan will be. For the most part, retirement plans allow the owner to designate a beneficiary. The same is generally true for bank, brokerage and other financial accounts.

As beneficiary designations trump any language within a will, it may be a good idea to review them at least once a year. Adding a medical directive to an estate plan can make it easier for family members or others to determine what type of care the estate owner should receive. A medical proxy is a person who is allowed to make decisions about what sort of treatment the estate owner should get.

It may also be worthwhile to create a will or trust. A trust can hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary, and this may be ideal for parents of minor children or grandparents of minor children. Irrevocable trusts make it possible to protect assets from creditors and reduce estate taxes at the same time. However, creating such a trust means surrendering control of the assets.

Those who want greater control over assets may want to consider working with estate planning attorneys. A lawyer can describe how a will, trust or other plan document is created and how much they may cost to create. Legal counsel may also be able to help a client review any plan documents that already exist. This could ensure that a beneficiary designation form is updated or that other plan documents accurately reflect the creator's wishes.

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