Getting Your Affairs In Order

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Knoxville (WVLT) -- You've worked hard for your money, and made every attempt to be a conscientious saver.

So it's only natural that you want some control over your assets in the event of your death.

Estate planning deals with what happens to your assets after you die.

Even if you are a person of modest means, you have an estate.

Misinformation and misunderstanding about estate taxes and the length or complexity of probate provide the perfect cover for scam artists.

Some unscrupulous businesses are advertising seminars on living trusts or sending postcards inviting consumers to call for in-home appointments to learn whether a living trust is right for them.

It's true that for some people, a living trust can be useful, but, for others, it can be a waste of money and time,

The Federal Trade Commission says it helps to learn the terms that are used in this aspect of financial planning, before you begin conversations about it.

For example, probate is a legal process that usually involves filing a deceased persons will.

Many states have simplified probate for estates below a certain amount.

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person gives control of his property to a trust, which is administrated by a "trustee" for the "beneficiary's" benefit.

A living trust is created while you are alive and lets you control the distribution of you estate.

When properly drafted and executed, it can avoid probate because the trust owns the assets, not the deceased.

The down side?

Poorly drawn or unfunded trusts can cost you money and endanger your best intentions.

A living trust is different from a "living will".

A living will expresses your wishes about being kept alive if you're terminally ill or seriously injured.

The FTC advises, proceed with caution.

Taking a "cookie cutter" approach to estate planning isn’t always the most efficient way to handle your affairs.

If you have a consumer question or comment, give us a call at 865-450-8881.

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