Most people don't realize that having a will doesnot avoid the agony of probate court or that thousands of dollars couldbe coming out of their estate needlessly to pay federal taxes, attorneyand administrative fees, gift and inheritance taxes, filing fees, inaddition to exposing your estate to public scrutiny.

Without a complete estate plan the probate court could step in to takecontrol of your life and your estate. If you become incapacitated orincompetent that state could control what happens to you and yourproperty by appointing a guardian who would decide what is best for youand your property. After death, the probate court could control whathappens to your property and charge your gross estate 4 to 10 percentfor doing it, in addition to other costs and fees.

All of this can be avoided with estate planning that includes arevocable living trust: in life your estate would be protected if youbecame incapacitated or incompetent; in death a living trust woulddirect who takes your property so it is passed to your loved ones asefficiently as possible and with as little taxes as possible.

In general, the larger your estate the more you should have an estateplan which includes the following documents

- Revocable Living Trust Sets up a trust that may be changed or endedat any time before your death that protects your assets during yourlifetime and after your death can avoid probate, save estate taxes andleave loved ones a greater estate;

- Durable Power of Attorney During your life if you are unable to makefinancial decisions for yourself you appoint another person to act onyour behalf;

- Living Will Specifically states your wished as to the circumstancesyour doctor can withhold or withdraw certain life sustaining procedures;

- Health Care Power of Attorney You name a health care agent to makehealth care and medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able tomake them yourself.

If you are interested in avoiding the problems poor estate planningcould create, contact an attorney for a consultation. If is never tooearly or too late to consider a good estate plan!