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Putting off estate planning? Don't wait until it's too late

Nearly 60 percent of adults in California and the rest of the country are lacking something that no adult should be without -- an estate plan. It is not that these individuals do not understand the benefits of estate planning; rather, the majority simply claim to not have the time to do it properly. The tricky thing about this though is that once an estate plan is needed, there is no time left to take care of it.

Dying without a will can have serious implications for family and friends. Any surviving spouses, children and even siblings will be far more likely to fight over the remaining estate. This is especially true when not all of the surviving family members are have the same financial grounding. Those who are less fortunate might feel as if they are entitled to more, while those who were closer to the deceased might disagree.

This type of fighting often plays out in probate court and can be timely and costly. Unfortunately, the brunt of this cost will fall to the estate and squander away any remaining funds that might be left after paying off any remaining debt and taxes. What most family members end up fighting over is the right to claim that they best understood how the deceased would have wanted his or her estate to be distributed.

Even people in California who do not much care what happens to their estate after death can understand the trouble involved with passing away without a will. A simple approach to estate planning does not mean dealing with trusts or powers of attorney -- although these documents can be extremely effective when needed. At the very least, drawing up a thorough will can help individuals mitigate some of the confusion and in-fighting that may arise among surviving family members during the settling of an estate. 

Source: The Huffington Post, "7 Nasty Things That Can Happen If You Die Without A Will", Ann Brenoff, May 13, 2016

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