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No better time than present for estate planning

Most Florida residents admit to procrastinating about one thing or another. Goals such as eating better, exercising more and being more organized are often pushed off to another "better" time. When it comes to matters related to estate planning, however, there is no better time than the present.

Unforeseen events and accidents occur. Because of this fact, it's wise for individuals of all ages to take steps towards devising a comprehensive estate plan. While the thought of meeting with an estate planning attorney to draft a will or set up a trust may seem daunting, the implications of doing nothing are often far worse.

Each year, roughly one-hundred million lawsuits are filed in the United States related to estate disputes. In many cases, however, such arguments between family members and friends related to the assets of a loved one could have been avoided had the decedent had a will. The benefits of a will are plentiful in that it provides a legal means to pass on wealth and assets while avoiding the probate process and unnecessary taxes. As a result, more of an individual's hard-earned assets pass directly, and much more quickly, to loved ones.

Having a will and other estate planning documents such as a trust or living will also provides for the equitable distribution of assets to help pay for costs related to long term care needs. Taking the steps necessary to establish such a trust helps ensure for one's financial security in the event that long term medical or nursing home care is required.

Florida residents would be wise to take the first steps towards building a comprehensive estate plan. Doing so not only provides for the financial security of those left behind, but also helps avoid unnecessary disputes and taxes and provides for financial security during one's golden years.

Source: Grand Forks Herald, "Taking a proactive approach to wills, trusts," Pamela Knudson, April 23, 2013

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