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It is almost a given today that if you don’t have a Will or a Trust you will end up in court if you have any assets or children. While many might not think this is a big deal today, it will most certainly be one when it happens. It’s something you want to avoid at all costs if possible.

Granted, there are reasons you can’t avoid it…but they are far a few between. The biggest one is that most people don’t really understand the legal process and put things off to the end when it’s usually too late to do anything except go to court. And it’s not that court is always unpleasant (although most don’t enjoy it), it is expensive and time consuming. So my strong recommendation is to plan ahead and do what you can to avoid it.

Setting up a Trust is much less painful than going to court…and you can do it in much less time and with much less cost. These reasons alone should hopefully motivate you to at least think about it more aggressively than you may have before. But there’s a few more things to put in the “gift basket” you are giving your family and loved ones.

Here are some additional items you would want to have in your “gift basket” to avoid issues, complications, additional financial consequences, and helping to keep peace in the family…

  • Advanced Health Care Directive…this simply designates someone you want to follow your directives as to how you want to be treated at an “end of life” state. Simply put, these are your directions and wishes that you want the medical industry to follow when you get to a critical health state in life.
  • Durable Power of Attorney…this is similar to the Advanced Health Care Directive since it is designating someone to handle your financial affairs if you become unable to do so during the course of your life. This is a huge time and money saver since they can direct what needs to go on in critical situations without the courts involved.
  • Letter of Instructions…this is exactly what it says, a letter (or other means of communication) that will details out your final wishes to your family and loved ones. It can talk about many things but is usually something very valuable and very desirable by the ones you leave behind.
  • Designated Beneficiaries in Other Areas…not all documents are covered in the Trust such as your retirement accounts and others. Whatever isn’t covered and included in your Trust should have designated beneficiaries to again avoid these accounts from going to court.

These are the Gifts you want to add to your Gift Basket for your family and loved ones. Give them this instead of fruit and chocolates this year…they will certainly remember it more and be more thankful…and won’t put on any weight in the process!

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