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What are your goals for your assets?

When you start your estate planning, people will often tell you that you should consider what assets you have. That's true, and it's a fine place to begin.

However, it's about more than just knowing what you have. You also want to identify your goals. What are you hoping to do and planning to achieve? What is the end goal of having those assets in the first place, and how can your estate plan impact it?

For example, perhaps you had a great experience in college that launched your career. Your goal is to make sure your grandchildren can go to college without worrying about the cost.

Now you're thinking about more than just how much money you have. You're considering educational trusts and other vehicles to transfer funds. These can be used not just to pass the money to your heirs, but to make sure they use the assets in the way you intended.

Or, perhaps your goal is simply to pass along assets that the next generation can use so that they are not tied to work. Even if you can't support them entirely, you can make life far easier for them. Without the specifics of trying to push them toward a college education, there are other tactics you'll use to pass the money along -- especially if you have heirs who don't plan to go to college.

These are merely two examples, but they show you how important it is to pinpoint what goals you have and then to discover all of the legal options there are to make them a reality.

Source: CNN, "When should I start my estate planning?," accessed June 28, 2017

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