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Protecting Your Assets in Down Economic Times

These are confusing times for those with money in the stock market, planning retirement or considering the creation of an estate plan. For one, people are not sure just how much they will have to account for. Stocks are plummeting. Home values are following suit. With changes to healthcare and new taxes expected to pay for them, options that seem feasible now may not in the very near future.

Additionally, the lack of an estate tax this year, and the expectation that it will come back bigger than ever next year, poses an uncertain proposition to those planning a will, trust or other elements of an estate plan.

As Jill Schlesinger points out in a recent Moneywatch article, financial confusion may necessitate a reevaluation of goals and strategies, but should not inspire anyone to pause planning. With estate planning, time is literally of the essence.

First things first: If you have not already, it would likely be a good idea to retain an estate planning attorney to assist with the creation of things like a will, power of attorney and healthcare proxy.

You might also want to consider setting up a revocable trust, which will protect your unified tax credit from the federal estate tax. This option is often utilized by individuals with estates totaling more than $3.5 million.

Take life insurance, disability and long-term healthcare under strong consideration. Do not prioritize asset inheritance before your own well-being. Make sure that you have adequate funds set aside to purchase care for yourself no matter what happens.

There is much more to consider, but these are some key areas to be touched upon in any comprehensive estate plan.

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