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Alternatives to traditional estate planning

Estate planning may seem like a daunting effort, especially for people who believe that they are not independently wealthy or young enough to have grandchildren. However, the reality is that you do not need to have millions of dollars in assets, or multiple homes to have a plan for how to distribute your assets for when you pass on.

Others may feel that creating a will is such a morbid process that they are uncomfortable doing so. Even if you subscribe to this feeling, there are a number of things that can be done in lieu of creating a full-blown estate plan.

Create transfer on death deeds – These documents dictate the transfer of specific assets, namely cars and real property, to a specific beneficiary when you pass away. Such a deed can effectuate the immediate transfer of legal ownership to a person you designate without the need for it to go through probate. A transfer on death deed can also be used to transfer ownership of bank accounts.

Name beneficiaries – For those who have life insurance or 401(k) accounts, naming beneficiaries that will receive benefits or assets is part of a procedural process in setting up coverage or a retirement account. For those who already have done so, it is also important to make updates when significant life events occur, such as a divorce, the birth of a child, etc.

Complete a health care directive – If you must be hospitalized for a condition, it is also helpful to fill out a health care directive that designates a person who can make decisions on your behalf.

Source: “Resolve to get your affairs in order,” Tim Engle, Feb. 19, 2014

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