From the Bookshelf

“The Wall Street Journal Complete Estate Planning Guidebook” (Crown Business, 2011) gives a comprehensive overview of strategies for protecting and passing on your wealth. Included in the book are discussions about wills, living wills, taxes, trusts, life insurance, probate and charitable contributions.

The breadth of the topics covered made it difficult to discuss any single strategy or trust in depth. Yet author Rachel Emma Silverman deserves credit for pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of various products and strategies. For example, she points out that an irrevocable trust can minimize estate taxes, but it can also be costly and complex. This is a good book for learning about the various estate planning options and developing a checklist of questions to ask when researching those topics further. It is not a thorough and detailed reference book on the subject, however.

A nice inclusion is a selection of links to useful websites, such as Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? ( This site gives guidelines on how to talk about inheritance. Silverman also includes links for useful services such as finding estate lawyers (; click on “Fellows”) and arranging for the care of pets (

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