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Estate Planning

As you probably know, actor Heath Ledger died tragically in January of 2008 at the age of 28. And you may have read reports that Heath Ledger’s estate leaves nothing to his former girlfriend and their young daughter because it was drafted in 2003 (3 years before his daughter was born), and was never updated to include them after they became a part of his life. Instead, it appears that the will leaves everything to his parents and siblings. And although the Ledger family has stated that Heath’s daughter will be taken care of, they may have no legal obligation to do so. In the end, Heath’s former girlfriend may have to fight for their daughter’s inheritance.

This story underscores the need to both make a will and keep it updated. If you care about what happens to your loved ones after you die, you may want to do some estate planning. There are many tools you can use to achieve your estate planning goals, but a will is probably the most vital. Even if you’re young or your estate is modest, you should always have a legally valid and up-to-date will. This is especially important if you have minor children because, in many states, your will is the only legal way you can name a guardian for them.

A will can also allow you to:

  • Name an executor to administer your estate according to your wishes
  • Help minimize estate taxes and other costs
  • Specify how estate taxes and/or other expenses should be paid
  • Create a testamentary trust
  • Fund a living trust

If you don’t have a will, or haven’t reviewed your will lately, don’t put it off–it’s just too important.

If you have questions or need help getting started, talk to your CPA or one of our financial advisors.

Article provided by ForefieldÔ