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Ask the Estate Planning Expert: I Don’t Expect to Owe Estate Taxes. Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Insights & Ideas Team •  October 2, 2015 | Home and Family, Your Finances, Ask the Expert

By Elizabeth Taylor, former Director – Estate Market in the Specialty Markets Division

Each week our Northwestern Mutual retirement experts answer your questions. This week’s question:

I don’t expect to owe estate taxes. Do I need an estate plan?

Absolutely. In fact, the most important reasons to have an estate plan have nothing to do with estate taxes. With an estate plan you can:

  • Specify who receives the things you own at your death and determine whether they receive them outright or whether they are held in trust for that beneficiary’s benefit.
  • Nominate a guardian for any minor children.
  • Name someone to handle your financial affairs if you ever become unable to do so yourself.
  • Name someone to handle medical decisions if you can’t make them yourself.
  • Specify end-of-life wishes in terms of what medical care you’d want.

In order to do these things, your estate plan should include a will, a durable financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and a living will. A trust—created either during your life or by the will at the time of your death—is helpful for some people in their planning but really depends on your wishes.

For more information, download our white paper: “Your Estate Plan: Is a Trust Right for You?

Do you have a question for our Northwestern Mutual retirement experts? Click here to send your questions.

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