Estate planning the right way: Starting early is key

As you get older, one of the things you need to think about is estate planning. Estate plans help make sure your wishes are known following your death. If you haven't planned yet, there's no good excuse not to get started.

Around a third of all Americans have a will, but the number of people who don't vastly outnumbers them. It's obvious that people don't want to think about dying, but estate planning is more than just thinking about your death. It's thinking about how you can leave behind something for your beneficiaries and continue to provide for your family. It lets you decide on your funeral and gives you a chance to appoint representatives who make decisions on your behalf when you can't.

If you die without a will, your estate will be handled by court-appointed agents. It's impersonal, and the law widely dictates what happens to your assets. It's a better idea to take the time to write out a will, so you can state exactly what you want to see happen following your death. You can leave assets to friends, family members and others who might otherwise not receive anything if your assets are divvied up by the courts.

Starting early might feel like you're being premature in your decision to make an estate plan or to develop a will, but it's always better to be safe rather than sorry. Once you create a base plan, it's easy to adjust it as you age and when you add to your family. With the right support, your estate can be prepared for the worse.

Source: Kiplinger, "8 Smart Estate Planning Steps to Die the Right Way," Jane Bennett Clark, Pat Mertz Esswein, Lisa Gerstner, accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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