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Estate Planning: Maybe this year?

Something like 60% of Americans have no estate planning documents. That figure can be as high as 70% if a younger demographic is added, but the percentages are not important. The reality is. Too many people fail to take care of what will happen if they become ill and when they die. Yes, when, not if.

This is not meant to be harsh. Just honest. We are mortal and some of us frail – we may become ill and need help managing our affairs and even making health decisions. If there has been no planning, this painful time will become more painful.

In the age of the internet, everyone knows about estate planning. Or maybe thinks they do. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney. There are lots of forms that can be downloaded and companies may even offer free consults and estate planning. Yet the number of people who do not plan remains the same. Why?

One reason may be the sheer complexity of estate planning. It is no longer just a will or even a trust. There are life insurance and retirement accounts and annuities and investment accounts, all of which must be reviewed to properly plan. And there are health care documents that seem to get longer every year and sometimes scarier.

But maybe the biggest reason is that estate planning is more than pieces of paper. It is our lives. Who we are and what we would like to leave for our heirs and maybe our communities – our legacy. How can these issues – the most important parts of our lives – be reduced to some form downloaded from the internet? To some seminar that says what we need without knowing who we are? It can’t.

People can be intimidated by lawyers, but remember that they are also counselors-at-law. An attorney does not just draw up papers. He or she also listens and counsels each individual about his or her individual needs and situation. It can be far more comforting than you think and provide peace of mind once completed.

So…. maybe this year?

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