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Nobody wants to think about the “what ifs?” But part of your financial future includes planning for the good and bad … even if you’re young and healthy. Having plans that protect you, your assets and your wishes can offer tremendous peace of mind and a sense of financial confidence.

Disability insurance

Disability insurance can keep you financially solvent when you can’t work due to sickness or injury. If you are working, a disability insurance policy can cover you financially in situations where a well-funded emergency fund (or FCA – financial confidence account) could not.

Based on your financial situation and physical health, determine the level of coverage you need and obtain multiple insurance quotes (and always ask insurers about available discounts). A higher deductible with lower premiums could help lower your costs. And remember: The money in your FCA can help cover a deductible if needed.

Last will and testament

Many people don’t think about estate planning because they don’t think they have an estate. But if you own anything—a car, a home, a wedding ring, a 401(k)—then you have an estate, and a will is the estate planning document everyone needs.

A good will should include a financial inventory listing your assets, named guardians, funeral arrangements and specific wishes. It should also include a power of attorney (a document that names a person to act on your behalf in legal matters if you become unable to do so). Also make sure you have named beneficiaries on all of your accounts. A lot of people don’t realize that named beneficiaries take precedence over heirs named in a will. So if you have a big life event like a marriage or divorce, be sure to update your beneficiaries. You can draft a will yourself, but consider working with an estate-planning attorney—having a trusted advisor on your side can help simplify a complicated process.

A living will

A living will is different from a last will. Sometimes called a physician’s directive or advanced medical directive, a living will is a document that details your wishes for end-of-life care if you’re unable to communicate your wishes.

You can draw up a living will at the same time as your last will.

A trust

A trust is a little more complicated than a will, and it’s not for everyone, but it can offer some benefits that a will alone doesn’t always provide. Trusts are primarily for people with larger estates who are looking for privacy, less red tape, asset protection and potentially reduced taxes. A trust can help you avoid probate, which is the process of distributing your property through a will. Probate happens publicly, in court. If you want to exercise greater control and streamline the process, a trust may be the right option for you.

Challenge: Due to the complexity of trusts and the larger estates they are designed to manage, it’s best to contact an estate-planning attorney.

The more you think about and plan for the “what ifs,” the more comfortable and confident you will become in your daily life. Communicating your plan to your family or loved ones can also help ease some of the headaches.

3 Key Takeaways
  1. Disability insurance can keep you financially solvent when you can’t work due to sickness or injury.
  2. If you own anything, then you have an estate, and a will is the estate planning document everyone needs.
  3. Trusts can be a good choice if you have a large estate and are looking for privacy, less red tape, asset protection and potentially reduced taxes.

Challenge yourself

Be sure to document your end-of-life wishes in writing so that they can be passed on as you wish. Keep reading: Take charge of what you leave behind.

SunTrust Bank and its affiliates and the directors, officers, employees and agents of SunTrust Bank and its affiliates (collectively, “SunTrust”) are not permitted to give legal or tax advice.  While SunTrust can assist clients in the areas of estate and financial planning, only an attorney can draft legal documents, provide legal services and give legal advice.  Clients of SunTrust should consult with their legal and tax advisors prior to entering into any financial transaction or estate plan.  Because it cannot provide legal services or give legal advice, SunTrust’s services or advice relating to “estate planning” or “wealth transfer planning” are limited to (i) financial planning, multi-generational wealth planning, investment strategy, (ii) management of trust assets, investment management and trust administration, and (iii) working with the client’s legal and tax advisors in the implementation of an estate plan.

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