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Protecting your family may require being proactive

In matters of estate planning, some Tennessee residents may get hung up on the semantics. When some people hear the word estate, they may envision large homes with lush lawns and a few luxury vehicles parked in the garage. In reality, however, an estate is simply the collective assets held by an individual at the time of his or her death. Protecting your family may require a change of perspective in regard to estates and estate planning.

When considering what is included in one's estate, many people fail to recognize the full range of wealth that they possess. Because they may not have substantial investments or multiple pieces of real estate, they might assume that their estate is of little consequence. But consider the example of a husband and wife whose lives reflect the choices of many Tennessee residents.

The spouses in this example have lived a modest life and set aside savings for their retirement. They paid off their home over time and have no debt to speak of. They have a life insurance policy in place and are receiving Social Security benefits. The husband has a modest pension, and the wife inherited a small piece of land from her own parents many years ago. While such a couple might not feel as if they have much of an estate, in reality they have amassed a considerable amount of wealth, especially if their home and land has appreciated over time.

Without an estate plan in place, Tennessee law will determine how one's assets will be distributed. The only way to avoid this fate is to take a proactive approach in protecting your family. Creating a comprehensive estate plan is an important part of taking care of those who are loved the most.

Source: washingtonblade.com, "7 myths of estate planning", Lawrence S. Jacobs, March 18, 2016

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