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Don't Put Off Planning Your Estate
By Deborah Lust Zaluda, J.D.
Too many people avoid estate planning. Perhaps they find it uncomfortable to talk about, or maybe they just don’t have the time. But in reality, everyone has an estate plan--if you don’t create your own plan, the state will determine how your estate is distributed.
That’s because in most cases if you die without a will, the laws of your state determine how your estate is handled. Say you are married, with a couple of young children. You might assume that if you die, your spouse will get everything. But that is not necessarily the case. Depending on the specific state law, your young children could get substantial amounts of money outright. Your parents and siblings also might get a part of your estate.
The situation becomes even more complicated in the case of domestic partnerships, for example, or of children born through assisted reproduction technology. Advances in technology and changes in cultural norms are likely to create even more complications in the future. In addition, state laws make no accommodation for anything you would like to leave to friends or to charitable institutions.
Finally, you want to ensure that your heirs get your money, and that as little as possible goes to taxes. Estate planning can help you maximize the amount that goes where you want it to go.
I outline many of the issues surrounding estate planning in an article titled “Have You Created a Plan Without Knowing It?” published in the January/February 2010 issue of the American Bankers Association’s ABA Trust and Investments. To read that article, click here. To talk with me further about estate planning or any other wealth management needs, call 847-572-0800 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.