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Some Pennsylvania residents hear the term “estate planning” and presume (in error) that it is something only for the very wealthy. However, the fact is that all Pennsylvania residents who have anything of value, and loved ones they want taken care of, can benefit from estate planning. It is a good idea for adults of any age, and indeed many experts advise starting estate planning as early in life as possible. Remember, you can always adapt your estate plan later as your circumstances, and your circle of loved ones, change across the years.

In the meantime, there are key things to do to make your estate planning successful. The first one is very basic: you should make an inventory of all of your assets and all of your liabilities. Your assets include money in the bank, property, other material possessions, stocks, bonds, businesses and anything else that can be a source of material value. The attorney you work with in developing your estate plan can help you to make sure that your inventory covers all of the assets that it should. Of course, you should make an inventory of your liabilities as well.

The next key thing to do is also very basic: Make a list of your intended beneficiaries. These can include a husband, wife or domestic partner, and typically also include your sons, daughters, and possibly other relatives. You may also wish to make friends and even charitable organizations beneficiaries as well. Once you have done that, you’ll want to decide what each beneficiary gets. While that decision starts with your personal preference, giving the most to those you care about the most, your estate planning attorney can be instrumental in this stage of the process by helping you make sure your loved ones are taken care of.