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Reasons people put off estate planning and the risks

Many California residents put off making a will, and there are a variety of reasons why. Some people tend to imagine that their final days will come when they have reached their 80s or 90s, which leads to procrastination with estate planning.

A survey from Princeton Survey Research Associates International asked approximately 1,000 people why they had not made end-of-life preparations. Among those who lacked estate plans, 47 percent of them said that they had simply not gotten around to it yet. Younger people had the lowest level of estate planning with only 22 percent of adults 18 to 36 in possession of a will. In addition to a lack of concern about death, 29 percent of young people believed that their assets were too minimal to worry about the issue.

Parents of children under 18 did not outperform their peers for planning. Only a modest 36 percent of them had created an end-of-life plan. When parents die without a will that at least assigns guardians for their minor children, a judge will ultimately decide who cares for them.

Estate planning gradually rises among middle-aged people, but does not become a priority until people reach age 72 when 81 percent of people reported having a will. For those who fail to ever create an estate plan, the probate court system will decide who receives any assets left over after paying off creditors.

A will is not necessarily the only document that might be needed. Estate planning attorneys will often suggest that their clients also prepare powers of attorney which will allow a trusted individual to make certain health care or financial decisions if the client becomes incapacitated and is unable to make them. Trusts can also be useful when clients are worried about leaving lump sum inheritances to beneficiaries who might squander them.

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