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Last will and testament: important part of a balanced estate planning diet

The most important thing we try to emphasize on this blog, in addition to various tips relating to specific aspects of estate planning, is the importance of writing a will. This means that one should not procrastinate.

As a recent USA Today article points out, around 71 percent of adults under the age of 34 do not have a will. And 41 percent of Baby Boomers do not have one. Those numbers, based on a recent online survey by Rocket Lawyer, may or may not be completely accurate. What is not in question is the importance of putting a will together sooner rather than later.

There is any number of reasons why folks put off drafting a will, including the belief that it is too expensive or that they don't have enough assets to protect. What many people do not sufficiently consider, though, is that a will ensures that one's assets go to the right people. As part of a balanced estate planning diet, it can deliver overall financial health at one's passing. And that is no small accomplishment.

Several areas where this is particularly evident are domestic partners, digital assets and pets. In each of these areas, lack of existing protections put children, assets, and men's--and women's-- best friends at risk.

Estate planning is important for domestic partners because it can define relationships and clarify wishes. Digital assets, which are accumulating more and more every year, are often unprotected, with as many as one-third of consumers going without protection. As far as pets go, every family will have a slightly different approach and concern for the protection of pets. Those who wish to fit their pets into their estate plan can do so quite easily. It just takes a bit of discussion and planning.

Setting up a will is an important task, and one that is best done in consultation with an attorney. One can attempt to do the job on one's own, but the possibility of error, incompleteness, and failing to achieve one's estate planning goals is more likely.

Source: USA Today, "Times change wills, yet many Americans don't have one," Christine Dugas, April 30, 2012.

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