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The Importance of an Estate Plan (and Some Summer Reading!)

At Charter Oak, we assist in all aspects of our clients' financial lives, including estate plans. While estate planning may seem daunting, it is an important part of your financial life. Let's review what an estate plan is and how to begin one. 


What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning involves arranging the management and distribution of your assets and wealth after you pass away or become incapacitated. It's essentially the process of making a plan in advance, which ensures that your wishes regarding your property, finances, healthcare decisions, and the care of your dependents are carried out according to your desires. 


Estate planning typically involves various legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance healthcare directives. These documents allow you to specify how you want your assets to be distributed, who will manage your affairs if you cannot do so yourself, and your preferences for medical treatment.


Effective estate planning can help minimize taxes, avoid probate, protect assets from creditors, provide for loved ones, and ensure your wishes are followed. It's an essential aspect of financial planning for anyone who wants control over what happens to their estate and assets in the future.

 Source: LegalZoom

Is Estate Planning essential for me, too?

The short answer is yes; here are a few reasons why you may want to consider having a plan.


1. Asset Distribution: Estate planning allows you to specify how your assets will be distributed after death. 


2. Avoid Probate: Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person's estate. Estate planning can help your loved ones avoid or minimize the time and costs associated with probate, ensuring a smoother transition of assets. The probate process varies by state.


3. Provide for Loved Ones: Estate planning allows you to provide for your loved ones, including spouses, children, grandchildren, and other dependents, ensuring they are taken care of according to your wishes.


4. Healthcare Decisions: Estate planning, through documents like advance healthcare directives and powers of attorney, enables you to specify your preferences for medical treatment and appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.


5. Peace of Mind: Having an estate plan in place provides peace of mind, knowing that your affairs are in order and your wishes will be followed, regardless of what happens in the future.


In summary, wills and estate planning are crucial for protecting your assets, providing for your loved ones, and ensuring your wishes are fulfilled after your passing. They offer legal and financial safeguards to mitigate potential conflicts and uncertainties, providing you and your family greater security and peace of mind.

How do I get started on an Estate Plan?

Easy. Contact your Charter Oak Financial Advisor, and we can assist. Even though we don’t draft the legal documents, we can help you find the best estate planning attorney for you. We will assist you and gladly attend the meeting with your estate attorney; it can even be held in the Charter Oak offices. 



The Charter Oak Summer Reading List

While you may work with Charter Oak because you do NOT need to read any financial books or concern yourself with the financial markets, we always want to educate our valued clients. So if you are interested, here is a list of some of the most influential (and our favorite) financial books available. If you would like a copy of any of these, please get in touch with your Charter Oak financial advisor; we would be glad to send you one. Here we go, in no particular order:


The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

It is a favorite here at Charter Oak. Doing well with money isn't necessarily about what you know. It's about how you behave. And behavior is challenging to teach, even to brilliant people. The field of finance, including investment, personal finance, and business decisions, is typically presented as mathematical, where we are given precise instructions based on data and formulas. However, people in the real world don't use spreadsheets to make critical financial decisions. At the dinner table or in the conference room, people mix their backgrounds, perspectives, egos, pride, marketing strategies, and peculiar motivations to make these decisions. To help you better understand one of life's most important themes, award-winning author Morgan Housel presents 19 short stories in his book The Psychology of Money.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

Burton Malkiel evaluates the full range of investment opportunities, from stocks, bonds, and money markets to real estate investment trusts and insurance, home ownership, and tangible assets such as gold and collectibles. This edition includes new strategies for rearranging your portfolio for retirement, along with the book's classic life-cycle guide to investing, which matches the needs of investors in any age bracket. A Random Walk Down Wall Street long ago established itself as a must-read, the first book to purchase before starting a portfolio. So, whether you want to brief yourself on the ways of the market before talking to a broker or follow Malkiel's easy steps to managing your portfolio, this book remains the best investing guide money can buy.


The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by Jack Bogle

As your author spent over a decade working for the company Mr. Jack Bogle founded, Vanguard, this is a must-read. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is the classic guide to getting savvy about the market. Legendary mutual fund pioneer John C. Bogle reveals his key to getting more out of investing: low-cost index funds. Bogle describes the simplest and most effective investment strategy for building wealth over the long term: buy and hold, at a meager cost, a mutual fund that tracks a broad stock market Index such as the S&P 500.


The Four Money Bears by Mac Gardner

For our youngest readers: The Four Money Bears teaches kids the four basic functions of money. Spender Bear, Saver Bear, Investor Bear, and Giver Bear can each do good and bad things with their money. When they work together, they learn to build a budget and teach each other how to manage their money better. The Four Money Bears and their friends share their stories and give kids fun financial tips. They come together in their forest home to teach everyone money management skills. These skills serve as building blocks for strong financial literacy and expose young children to healthy financial habits. Parents can also help kids create their budget for every month of the year at the end of the story!