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Estate planning involves a few important steps

Creating and reviewing an estate plan is often viewed as grim work. After all, people in Texas would likely prefer to do other things than contemplate exactly what will happen when they die. However, engaging in estate planning is important for ensuring that one's wishes will be carried out after death.

A few steps may help to create a successful estate plan. First, it makes good sense to identify specific estate planning goals. For some people, their major goal may be to leave a valuable legacy for their children. Others may focus on being philanthropic.

Once overall goals are established, it is beneficial to take inventory of all assets, including life insurance policies, family heirlooms, investments and real estate. Liabilities must also be accounted for, including consumer and mortgage debt. Once  assets and liabilities are tabulated, the estate planning elements can be considered, including wills and trusts. Trusts are particularly helpful for those who have significant assets. Health care directives and powers of attorney are also important, as they provide instructions in the event that one becomes incapacitated.

Finally, it is important to choose an executor - in the case of a will -- or a trustee --when a trust is created. The designated party will assume responsibility for settling one's estate affairs. It is recommended that people review their estate plans every three to four years or whenever a significant milestone occurs, such as a divorce or the birth of a child. Legal guidance can help those in Texas complete estate planning by using specific strategies designed to work best for them and their families.

Source: desmoinesregister.com, "Your checklist for creating or reviewing your estate plan", Jim Sandager, Feb. 1, 2016

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