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VOL. 131 | NO. 191 | Friday, September 23, 2016

Dana and Ray Brandon

Estate Planning – It’s a Need

BY RAY AND DANA BRANDON

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Ray’s Take When talking about money and how it works in our lives, we often refer to the difference between wants and needs. The challenge being that when someone really wants something it can start to feel like a need.

Estate planning should always be a need. But often it gets relegated to the “do it tomorrow” list. There are lots of reasons people put it off, starting with having to deal directly with thoughts about dying. Also high on the list are the “what ifs.”

One person might be a good choice for guardian, trustee, power of attorney or executor, but what if when the time comes they have moved or don’t want the responsibility, then who? What if someone who needs to be named in the will needs to be removed later? What if the laws change or the circumstances change and another option would be better?

Things do change, that’s a fact of life. Children grow up and don’ t need a guardian, parents get older and do need a guardian. We change jobs, get promoted or lose jobs. Investments go up and go down. Sometimes laws change. All of these things factor into the list of what needs to be handled in estate planning.

Many people spend more time planning a vacation or researching the options of their next car than planning their estate. Of course, those are more fun – and more immediate.

Estate planning is much more important, but requires more time and effort. Without a comprehensive estate plan, a significant part of what you’ve done throughout your life, both at your job and with your investments, can be lost or given to unintended beneficiaries.

You should write a will as if you were going to die THAT DAY. Then set up a review system to make sure it stays relevant and appropriate. An estate-planning attorney is a great asset in figuring out the puzzle.

Dana’s Take Estate planning is a wise financial move and can also be a kind and caring gift. Anyone who has recently lost a loved one can appreciate the peace and security bestowed by a well-written estate plan or knows the chaos created by its absence.

Effective estate planning usually saves on taxes, plus time and expense settling an estate. A relationship with a trusted estate planner and financial planner also provides a hand to hold during a confusing time. Rather than the surviving spouse or children digging through papers, searching for clues on what to do next, the planner’s ready paperwork helps to move the process along smoothly, with minimal involvement from the grieving family.

An estate and financial plan lightens the burden of fear during life’s darkest moments. Can you think of a better gift?

Ray Brandon, CEO of Brandon Financial Planning, and his wife, Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, can be reached at brandonplanning.com.

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