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Building and Conserving Your Estate


Note: In all cases, when implementing an estate plan, legal advice is a must!

The first step in estate planning is building your estate.

So, you may want to take time now to review your financial plan. How well is it meeting your current objectives? Will it continue to meet your future needs? Can you improve your investment program so that it will better build the estate you desire? The answers to these questions will help you in your estate planning.

Conserving the assets you’ve built is another important part of estate planning.

Taxes, inflation, and unanticipated expenses can diminish the value of your estate. To protect the value of your assets, you have to plan for unexpected expenses, such as a prolonged illness, for anticipated but out-of-the-ordinary expenses, such as retirement or a child’s education, and for ordinary living expenses, taxes, and inflation. Otherwise, your estate plan may not accomplish your objectives.


You’ve worked hard to build your estate. You deserve the right to determine who will receive your assets after your death. This is where a Will comes in. A Will is a legal document that allows you to direct how your estate will be administered and distributed. By exercising your privilege of making a Will, you can accomplish numerous personal and financial objectives.

If you die without a Will, a state court will choose an administrator for your estate or, if needed, a guardian for your minor children. The court’s choice may or may not be individuals whom you would have selected. The court-appointed administrator will distribute your property according to the state intestacy laws, regardless of any desires you may have expressed during life. Your children, grandchildren, or other heirs who are minors at the time of your death may automatically receive their shares of your estate outright when they reach the age of majority, whether or not they are experienced enough to manage their inheritances wisely.

A Will is the cornerstone of estate planning. If you don’t have a Will, we strongly recommend that you make one. If you do have a Will, you should review it regularly to make sure it is still meeting your needs. Once your Will is written, you may exercise the right to revoke and replace the document at any time, for any reason.

Through a properly drawn Will, you can:


Protect your family by making provisions to meet their present and future financial needs,






Minimize taxes that might reduce the size of your estate,






Name an experienced executor or personal representative who will ensure that your wishes are carried out,






Name a guardian for your minor children,






Establish trusts to manage the inheritances of any beneficiaries who may be minors or are otherwise inexperienced in asset management,






Make sure your assets will be managed prudently (by appointing a qualified trustee of a trust created in your Will, for example),






Avoid the delays and the added expense that intestacy proceedings may involve, and






Secure the peace of mind of knowing your family and other heirs will be well taken care of according to your desires.


When you write your Will, you’ll need to name an executor or personal representative. Your executor will administer your estate and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries, as you’ve directed in your Will.

You can choose almost anyone who is an adult and is legally competent to serve as executor — your spouse, sibling, friend, business associate, or financial or legal advisor, for example. You can also name a corporate executor, such as a bank trust department.

People who have never served as an executor frequently don’t know what they are getting into when they agree to serve and subsequently find themselves overwhelmed by the duties required of them. So, although you have wide latitude in whom you can select, you may want to give serious consideration to naming a professional as your executor or naming a professional to serve as co-executor with a family member or friend.

The terms executor and personal representative are interchangeable and vary from state to state. The duties and responsibilities, however, are basically the same. An executor generally:


Collects and provides safekeeping for the estate’s assets;






Notifies creditors and pays all valid debts;






Collects any sums owed the estate;






Files claims for retirement plan benefits, Social Security benefits, and veterans’ benefits;






Manages the estate’s assets;






Sells assets, as directed by Will or required by state law, to pay estate expenses or legacies;






Keeps detailed records of all estate transactions and submits records to beneficiaries and/or the probate court;






Distributes assets to beneficiaries;






Files the decedent’s final federal income-tax return;






Chooses a tax year for the estate;






Files the estate’s income-tax returns;






Files state death-tax returns; and






Completes and files the federal estate-tax return.


Before choosing someone to serve as your executor or personal representative, give serious consideration to how well he or she will be able to handle these duties and responsibilities.

NEXT Using "Will Substitutes" To Avoid Probate

Author’s note:  The intent of this article by termlifeamerica.com is to inform and motivate the general public into action.  One should consider only a qualified practicing legal individual or entity, in the state in which you reside, to establish properly drawn documents of this type.


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Lewis Fink is licensed as a term life agent offering term life quotes in the following states: Term life quotes for:
Alabama - AL,  Arkansas - AR,  California - CA Colorado - CO Connecticut - CT Delaware - DE District of Columbia - DC,  Florida - FL, Georgia - GA Idaho - ID Illinois - IL Indiana - IN Iowa - IA Kansas - KS Kentucky - KY Term quotes for: Louisiana - LA,  Maine - ME Maryland - MD Massachusetts - MA,  Michigan - MI Mississippi - MS Missouri - MO,  Montana - MT Nebraska - NE New Mexico - NM, New Jersey - NJ New York - NY,  North Carolina - NCTerm quotes for: North Dakota - ND,  Ohio - OH Oklahoma - OK Pennsylvania - PA, Rhode Island - RI South Carolina - SC,  South Dakota - SD,  Tennessee - TN Term quotes for: Texas - TX,  Utah - UT Vermont - VT Virginia - VA, and Wisconsin - WI.  

We offer term quotes for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year term periods. Our universal life products can be quoted to cover a term of up to age 120. Not all term product quotes from all term companies quoted are available in all states.

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