A misperception about estate planning that attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, and other specialists in the field regularly find themselves having to combat is the widespread notion that estate planning is primarily about tax avoidance. Avoiding taxes certainly can be one important motivation that people have for getting an estate plan in place. But a comprehensive estate plan should be about much more than taxes.

Will your kids need guidance and oversight after you are gone, or will they be mature enough to responsibly handle receiving a large sum of cash, no strings attached? Would your income be replaceable, or does it come from a source that might cease to exist once you pass away (such as a closely held business)? How will your values, and not just your material possessions, be transmitted to the next generation?

I recently added a section to my client estate planning questionnaire, asking my clients to rate the importance of 53 different items that could bear upon what type of estate plan is right for them. Of those 53 items, only 5 are directly related to taxes. Take a look and see how many reasons you might have for wanting to have a plan in place now. And when you are ready to put a plan in place for your loved ones, go ahead and fill it out.

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