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Estate planning basics

With more people retiring or relocating to Florida, fewer are taking the necessary steps to ensure their family's future with an estate plan. Though estate planning can be an essential part of setting up loved ones for a stable financial future, it is often difficult and uncomfortable to talk about, and many put it off as a result.

It is estimated that 41 percent of people over the age of 50 have not taken the necessary steps to prepare a will. By failing to take care of this relatively simple task, many families can leave themselves exposed to creditor claims and litigation. Not having a plan for the administration of an estate can also possibly lead to family in-fighting and financial problems for those left behind.

Those who are currently exposed without a will can remedy this situation by following several easy steps. These include seeking a lawyer to help create a will, as well as considering powers of attorney and health care directives should the person not be in a position to make financial or medical decisions at some point. Bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement plans should be reviewed to ensure that beneficiary designations are current. A person may wish to disclose details of the will with family members in order to possibly prevent future litigation.

Estate planning can be an important part of planning for any person's future, particularly for those close to retirement. Without seeking out professional advice for the preparation of a valid will, families can open themselves up to many potential problems involving claims against assets. An attorney with experience in estate administration may be able to provide advice regarding appropriate estate planning documents.

Source: Market Watch, "5 estate-plan strategies for boomers", Andrea Coombes, November 29, 2013

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