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Estate planning advice: Be thorough and timely, and revisit

One might reasonably think that, when it comes to estate administration, things are materially different in most respects for super wealthy individuals and families and their more "common" counterparts.

There is certainly some degree of truth to that in particular instances, of course, but estate planning for the less wealthy is often quite similar to that engaged in by wealthier persons. One financial commentator notes that "there are core issues and instruments that are used in all estate planning."

That assessment comes courtesy of Jeanette Showalter, a chartered financial analyst who recently contributed her views in an article primarily intended for a Florida audience. We pass along a few of Showalter's most material observations to our Texas and other readers, given that core estate administration realities transcend state boundaries and are widely applicable across the country.

A foremost recommendation from Showalter for most people is that they link up with an experienced estate planning law firm as early as possible in the planning process.

As she notes, even a would-be client "will garner many ideas" during an initial consultation, which can be ultimately tailored and set forth in legal instruments that best promote planning objectives. There are invariably a lot of things to consider, including a will, one or more trusts, the identification of persons given power of attorney to act in financial and health care-related matters, a living will, beneficiary designations, tax implications, and much more.

How these matters play out will vary greatly in every case, owing to this fundamental point that is often worth repeating: Every family is unique, and every knowledgeable and client-empathetic estate planner knows and will always be guided by that reality.

As a final point, Showalter stresses the need to revisit an estate plan periodically with the planning attorney who executed it. Life is full of variables and constant change, and a sound plan will always be marked by timely modifications that reflect that.

Source: Florida Weekly, "Plan your estate, no matter what the size of your assets," Jeanette Showalter, Feb. 5, 2014

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