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Taking care of your family means more than just seeing to family members’ day-to-day and year-to-year needs. More likely than not, you are also thinking longer term, to a time when you may not be around to take care of them. You want to make sure that your spouse and children will be financially secure, but you may also be considering how you can help grandchildren and even succeeding generations.

This makes estate planning one of the most important areas of successful families’ financial lives. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most misunderstood areas. While estate taxes often receive all the attention, they are only one relatively small element in the broader estate planning equation. You also need to focus on important issues such as management and wealth succession concerns, selection of successor managers or trustees, and preparing your heirs to successfully receive and make use of the assets they will eventually inherit.

In this section, we will start your thinking process on estate planning by looking at the big picture and then narrow the discussion to some specific wealth transfer tactics that may be appropriate for you. As the estate planning environment can be quite complex, consider engaging a qualified professional to advise you in this area.