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Protecting assets and values in an estate plan

For some people in Florida, estate planning can be part of an overall effort to pass on certain values to children and grandchildren. The estate plan can be the culmination of a lifetime of teaching children to value money for what it can do rather than as an end itself. For example, a person may want to emphasize the importance of charitable giving and supporting one's community. Leaving a portion of an estate to a charity can help illustrate this.

A person may also think about which family members will be beneficiaries. It is not necessary to treat all children equally, particularly if some children have more resources than other. For example, one child might work in a high-paying job while another is a teacher. The parent might leave more money to the child who is a teacher since that child might struggle more to build a retirement account and financial security.

Another issue may be beneficiaries who are irresponsible with money. A trust can be set up that will dictate how distributions will be made to this beneficiary. For example, the person might need to reach a certain age, education attainment or income level or keep debt under a certain level in order to get a distribution. A trust may also protect assets from creditors or from a spouse in a divorce.

There are other aspects of estate planning people should also consider. It is important to plan for becoming incapacitated. This involves appointing someone who can handle a person's financial affairs and someone who can make health care decisions on a person's behalf. As with all aspects of the estate plan, it may be helpful to discuss these issues with loved ones ahead of time so that a person's wishes are clear.

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