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Estate Planning And Probate FAQ

Estate Planning – If You Do Not Have It, You Should

June 23, 2013

Studies have consistently shown that over 1/2 of Americans do not have a will.* Considering that a will is a pivotal component for an adequate estate plan, it is likely that over 1/2 of Americans lack other important aspects of an estate plan, such as a living trust or durable power of attorney. The fact that so many are lacking in estate planning is unfortunate, but perhaps even more so are the reasons why.   Studies have also shown that the most popular reasons for not having an estate plan are that people do not want to think about dying or becoming incapable of making decisions, they do not know who to talk to about it, they feel that they do not have enough assets to justify setting up an estate plan, or they do not feel they can afford it with the current economic conditions.* In reality, these are not good reasons to avoid setting up an estate plan.   There can be detrimental consequences for those who fail to protect their assets and get their affairs in order in the event that they die or become incapacitated. Those who fail to do these things risk having their assets distributed in a way contrary to what they actually want. Not only does this negatively affect the individual, but it also affects the people and organizations who end up, or should end up, as beneficiaries of their estate. This is putting it simply.   Contrary to what some people may think, estate planning is for everyone. It remains certain that 1) Every person will at one point pass away and/or become incapacitated, and 2) The assets of each person will be distributed in some way. When it comes to having a will, durable power of attorney, living trust, or any other component of an estate plan, it is not the quantity or worth of assets that is most important, but the simple fact that you have assets that need to be managed and protected.Who and to whom those assets are distributed is up to you to decide. You can either set up estate planning and have the process be as efficient and effective as possible, or you can leave it up to the probate courts and potentially pass on unneeded stress and expense to your loved ones. We spend our lives working to acquire and accumulate various kinds of assets for various reasons. Does it not make sense then that we should invest in protecting our life’s work?   Sources: 1) Wills and Estate Planning Survey (2007). Performed by Harris Interactive. Retrieved from LexisNexis, 2) Wills and Estate Planning Survey (2009). Performed by Harris Interactive. Retrieved from LexisNexis,