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Your assets, your heirs: assuming some very important control

A recent media report on estate planning and administration cites to a whopping $30 trillion or so (yes, that's with a "t") in assets that is expected to be passed along from baby boomers to their heirs over the next few decades.

And then there's this: Notwithstanding the sheer magnitude of that and the importance of getting things right for individuals and families in all cases, only about 40 percent of Americans who plan on transferring wealth in some fashion to successive generations have even executed a will.

And that, of course, is a mainstay pillar in estate planning and the first bulleted list of to-do chores for most planners across the country.

And the clear majority of individuals who haven't gotten around to writing a will are reportedly joined by about 83% of all Americans who have never sought to secure the considerable benefits that flow from one or more tailored trusts.

That needs to change, says a financial commentator in a recent CNBC article profiling a multitude of strong reasons for would-be planners to get going on their estate structuring.

One point that that prominently emerges from writer Janis Cowhey is the tremendous and broad-based utility -- perhaps unparalleled in estate planning -- of trusts. Among other things, a trust can:

  • Spell out when assets will be distributed to beneficiaries
  • Detail any specific-use requirements (e.g., for education, buying a house, paying for health care and so forth)
  • Avoid probate and its attendant expenses, time delays and lack of privacy
  • Keep creditors at bay
  • Safeguard the status of assets as separate rather than marital property

All those benefits -- and many additionally unstated pluses -- can make trusts vitally important planning tools.

Of course, effective and comprehensive estate administration can also encompass many other strategies and considerations, as well. A proven legal adviser -- in some instances, a professional who combines a blended background as both an estate planning attorney and a CPA -- can provide candid and well-tailored guidance.

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