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SOLID GOALS HELP YOU ACHIEVE MORE WITH TRUSTS

It's the beginning of a new year, which means everyone is rushing to the gym or the health food store to try to get a head start on goals. In many cases, those goals will be abandoned by this time in February, but you can set some long-term financial and estate planning goals that are easier to keep -- especially if you cement them now with the help of an estate law professional.

Trusts are one way that you can help cement your estate planning goals or protect assets as you grow wealth through goal achievement. The type of goals you set have a lot to do with whether you'll be successful, though. Strong goals are challenging, yet realistic. Your goal has to be possible to achieve, so you can't set a goal that you'll leave behind billions in a trust for your children if you make $50,000 a year on average. You also need to stay within the law with your goals, which is why it can be a good idea to get help from a lawyer.

Your trust-related goals should also be specific. If you don't already have specific estate planning goals, take some time this month to consider what type of legacy you want to leave behind. For whom do you want to leave assets? You might choose your children, other family members or a favorite charity -- or you might want to leave assets for a combination of those people.

Put timelines on your goals to help motivate you. If you want to set up a trust, set a date by which you'll meet with an attorney. Work with your attorney to set realistic goals and timelines for creating and funding the trust.

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