Estate planning protects assets

"Accumulation is not the end goal. The end goal should be preservation of wealth for you and your heirs."

Janko says the vast majority of Americans avoid estate planning, primarily because they think it's time consuming and expensive. But he says it takes only one to two months and costs $1,500 to $3,000, which is much less expensive than losing $500,000 to estate taxes or millions in a lawsuit.

Here are possible outcomes of estate planning:

*Trusts. Trusts are legal entities used to avoid probate, manage the estate during someone's mental incapacitation, reduce or eliminate estate taxes, transfer property to heirs and protect the estate from lawsuits and seizures. Though there are several types of trusts, in general, grantors transfer ownership of their property to a trust, but maintain exclusive rights to it until their death.

*Living will. Also known as an advanced medical directive, this document outlines a person's interest in lifesaving techniques and other medical concerns.

*Power of attorney. A medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a power over will serve specific purposes. They are all designed to protect the estate when someone is incapacitated.

— Copley News Service