Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Transferring Property without a Will
Chapter 3: Making a Will
Chapter 4: Trusts
Chapter 5: Living Trusts
Chapter 6: Common Estate Planning Situations
Chapter 7: Special Considerations
Chapter 8: Death and Taxes
Chapter 9: Changing Your Mind: Changing, Adding to, or Revoking Your Will or Trust
Chapter 10: Choosing the Executor or Trustee
Chapter 11: Planning Now to Make Things Easier for Your Family
Chapter 12: When You Can't Make the Decision: Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Other
Where to Get More Information
Appendix A: Estate Planning Checklist
Appendix B: Health Care Advance Directive
"Estate planning." The phrase sounds so dry, distant, and foreboding. It's unfortunate so many
people shy away from even the thought of it, because planning your estate is really about caring for your
loved ones, seeing they are provided for, and making sure your hard-earned property is distributed
according to your wishes.
Your estate consists of all your property, including
* your home and other real estate,
* tangible personal property such as cars and furniture, and
* intangible property like insurance, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and pension and social
An estate plan is your blueprint for where you want your property to go after you die.
While a will is usually the most important part of an estate plan, it's not the only part. These
days, it's common for a person to have a dozen "wills"--that is, various ways of distributing property
regardless of whether the person has a formal will. Pensions, life insurance, gifts, joint ownership, and
trusts are but a few of the ways you can transfer property at or before death quickly and inexpensively.
Not just for the elderly
We're all squeamish about death, but we're increasingly overcoming our reluctance to plan for it.
The number of Americans with wills, for example, has grown by 50% in just 15 years. Thanks in