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How Do I Choose the Best Estate Planning Books?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Estate planning is a process that is necessary for individuals with assets they want to preserve for receipt by a beneficiary upon their death. Proper estate planning retains as much of the value of an estate as possible and allows the assets to legally change ownership in a timely fashion by avoiding probate court. There are numerous estate planning books that provide detailed information on the process. The value of the information and types of books chosen are largely dependent on whether the intended reader is an individual or an attorney.

While it is entirely possible for individuals to manage their own estate planning, many books on the subject of probate law are not written in lay terms and may be difficult for the average person to fully digest. Individuals looking for estate planning books should consider books and other resources written for consumers rather than legal professionals. There are estate planning books and resources written specifically for the legal profession that may offer additional insight, but questions of legal matters should be addressed by an attorney.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

While the estate planning process is essentially a single legal concept, there are many legal details that can vary depending on state and federal laws. Though federal laws, such as those applicable to taxes, are consistent, they do change from time to time. State laws may vary so it is important that information from estate planning books and resources be relevant to the state of residence. References to state statutes and tax laws should be made in any material written specifically for the given state or province, as the case may be.

Legal professionals looking for estate planning books may be interested in brushing up on probate law in their jurisdiction. University libraries and online databases are useful for researching up to date information, but look for the most recently published material. In cases where estate planning, assets and allocation are complicated, it is best to work with a legal professional specializing in probate law.

As an individual, professional or not, there are many aspects of estate planning that can be complicated. Arranging distribution of assets and settling an estate can become more complex with mitigating personal factors including minor children, marital status, and personal property. Financial assets and liabilities, along with tax codes, must also be taken into consideration. Some wills may be easy to write, but some may need to address specific circumstances in order to protect assets and minimize liability. While estate planning books can provide some degree of information and guidance, they are rarely a substitute for professional legal advice.

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