A recent AARP survey found that about 40% of Baby Boomers don't have a will. The figure is at 71% for all Americans over age 34. We all like to put things off, especially when they involve a morbid topic like dying and what to do with you and your assets after you pass away.
But like it or not, if you don't think about your estate planning, it can really cost your loved ones down the road. That's why you should read this report from Angie's List found on myChamplainValley.com called "Angie's List: Estate Planning Pointers."
You may realize that if you die without a will, your assets go to your spouse if you have joint ownership. But anything that's not jointly owned—like a car or a ring—could cause a lengthy and stressful probate experience. You need to decide who you want to have these assets, especially if you're in a second marriage and you are trying to provide for your spouse as well as children from a previous marriage.
"While no one looks forward to planning their estate or funeral, it's something we should all do because it can be considered a gift to your family because you're reducing stress that would be on them at that time," said Angie Hicks, Angie's List Founder.
An estate planning attorney can advise you and file the necessary paperwork to make certain that your assets are given away as you specify.
Parents should think about creating a trust that gradually gives funds from the inheritance so kids don't get too much too soon. Trusts are great for folks with young children or a child or children with special needs.
You also need to have your estate planning attorney draw up a health care directive in the event of a medical crisis that leaves you unable to communicate. Make these very important decisions ahead of time so you're not leaving that burden to a family member to figure out.
Everyone should start their estate planning today. It will help make the distribution of your things easier and less stressful.
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Reference: myChamplainValley.com (VT) (December 7, 2015) "Angie's List: Estate Planning Pointers"