Estate planning requires careful work from the beginning

People make a lot of important decisions in their lives, and many are content to let others take over as they age into new interests and new abilities. Although someone may not consider their last wishes as the most important they will make, those choices are often among the most important for future generations.

A lot of estate planning comes down to comparative advantage. What does a person want to accomplish with their estate? Is it security for their children, or is it keeping a beloved organization running? This is why some estate planning professionals have begun to use the term "legacy planning," so people take their final contributions seriously.

"There are questions, when it comes to transferring wealth, that are tough to answer," said a Pennsylvania bank manager. "They are questions focused on helping families get to the core issues surrounding their personal values and the legacy they wish to leave."

Planning should start with the people who will be executing an estate plan when the time comes. Family and friends should know what to expect, so conflicts and court appearances are few after a planner is deceased. Professionals in the process should also communicate with each other to make sure they are on the same page while they can still get clarification.

A serious and effective estate plan also may require changes as tax statutes change or expanding holdings need new attention. An attorney can be very helpful in the planning stages as well as coordinating other professionals. No one should try to handle such an important task on one's own.

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