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Understand the Importance of Estate Planning and the Goals of Estate Planning

The purpose of estate planning is to help us achieve our personal and family goals even after we die; death is not an excuse for disobedience. Estate planning ensures that your wealth will go to those you want it to go to, so you can achieve your personal goals even after you are gone. And you can even significantly reduce the taxes paid to Uncle Sam by proper estate planning, thus ensuring that your heirs get a larger inheritance.

Brigham Young said, “A fool can earn money; but it takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954, p. 292). That is your challenge—to save and dispose of it to your own advantage.

As previously mentioned, the Family Guidebook states:

Estate planning is the way we manage our major financial resources and properties to “dispose of it to [our] own advantage.” This kind of planning, begun early in life, can help provide financial security for a family throughout several generations. (Family Guidebook, “Preparing for Emergencies,” Ensign, Dec. 1990, 59)

There are five main goals of estate planning:

  1. Live life fully: Living your life fully means providing not only for yourself (and your spouse and family, if you are married), but providing for others according to your values. Living life fully also means preparing for the possibility that you may become unable to provide for yourself, your family, and others.
  2. Pass on your property to others according to your desires: In order to pass on your property according to your desires, you must provide for both administration (someone to do the paperwork and ensure that your desires are completed) and disposition (the decision of who gets what) of the assets.
  3. Provide for guardianship of children who are still minors: For most parents, the issue of guardianship is one of the most crucial decisions of the estate-planning process. Who will raise your children should you die?
  4. Avoid probate if desired, or use probate strategically: Probate is the legal process by which an asset’s title is transferred.
  5. Decrease or eliminate taxes: Through proper estate planning, you can decrease or eliminate the taxes that must be paid on your estate.


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