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It always feels painful to spend money on estate planning, be- cause you don’t live to reap the benefits, even if you know your heirs will. But by now you should be convinced of how impor-
tant it is to move forward. Estate planning starts with a fundamental goal: Once you have provided for your own needs, take care of those you love. That’s true whether you have a lot of money or a little.
Your estate plan does not have to be complex, especially now that the amount that is exempt from taxes has reached $5.43 million ($10.86 million for married couples) and will be adjusted for infla-
tion. If you haven’t re- vised your estate plan in 5 or 10 years, the current tax-free amount may be much higher than it was when you last met with your lawyer. With very little effort you may now be
able to structure your plan so that taxes will not be an issue. You can accomplish a great deal just by having the basic
documents prepared and applying simple strategies to take full advantage of the estate tax exemption. That, plus avoiding some key estate planning mistakes covered throughout this book, might be all you need to do right now.
As your finances and personal concerns change, you may have to update or completely revise earlier arrangements. A guiding principle mentioned again and again in this book is that when various means to an end are available, you should generally choose the simplest tool that achieves your goals.
fffffffIn This Chapter...
n When to Update Your Plan
n How to Start a Family Conversation n What Value a Lawyer Can Add
n How to Find Good Legal Advice
n The Seasons of Estate Planning

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