What is an estate?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Generally, your estate is all of the property that you own. Estate planning allows you to continue to prosper when you're alive, and pass your property to your loved ones with a minimum of fuss and expense after you die. Planning your estate may involve making a will, living trust, health care directives, durable power of attorney, or other documents. Estate taxes may be imposed by state or federal government. Currently, federal estate tax is due only if your property is worth at least $675,000 (six hundred seventy-five thousand dollars) at your death. This threshold will increase to $1 million (one million dollars) by 2006, making it even less likely that your estate will owe taxes after you die. Any property left to a surviving spouse or a tax-exempt charity is exempt from federal estate taxes. Another significant estate consideration is long-term health care. Because of its high annual cost—$50,000 (fifty thousand dollars) or more—it can cut deeply into your estate. To prevent this from happening, consider long-term health care insurance which can make sense for people over 45 years old with assets of $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) to $2 million (two million dollars).

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