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How to create an estate plan in the new year

The first month of the year is a great time for South Carolina residents and others to get their lives in order. For example, it can be a great time to create a savings account or finally get serious about meeting fitness goals. It can also be a great time to get serious about creating an estate plan. Ideally, a plan will include a will that dictates where assets go after a person dies.

It can also determine who has guardianship of any minor children a person has. Without a will, state law may decide where assets go, and these beneficiaries may not be the ones an individual had in mind. Individuals can also benefit from buying an insurance policy that will provide surviving family members with income. The amount of coverage a person should buy will depend on his or her income and other financial needs.

A power of attorney and a health care proxy should be named to ensure that a person's wishes are met while incapacitated. The power of attorney can file taxes or sell assets on an individual's behalf. The health care proxy will enforce treatment and other medical decisions a person has put into writing. Finally, it may be worth reviewing beneficiary designations to make sure that they reflect a person's intentions.

Estate planning documents such as a will, trust or power of attorney can help a person meet his or her goals while alive and after passing. In some cases, they make it possible for assets to be transferred without the need to go through probate. An attorney may be able to discuss estate planning tools that a person may want to take advantage of. If necessary, an attorney may act as an estate's executor or as a trustee.

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