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The dangers of postponing estate planning

Some Florida residents may not be aware of just how devastating the postponement of an estate plan can be. Though it may not always seem so, delaying an estate plan can be detrimental to the loved ones left behind. At any point in a person's life, something unexpected may occur that puts loved ones in an undesirable place. Even if someone is young and just beginning to acquire wealth, an estate plan can help prepare for the unexpected and leave loved ones with a clear understanding of what a person's wishes are.

Among the potential problems that come with not having an estate plan include distribution of assets that does not go the way the person intended, undesirable taxes and loved ones being forced to settle the estate in probate court. When all of the estate is left to probate, privacy and expenses may be lost. What's more, it can cause increased stress and tension among loved ones in a time when emotions are already running high.

Although not having an estate plan can be potentially very troublesome, drafting estate planning documents allows for one's wishes to be known and their loved ones to be taken care of following one's departure. One important document that Florida residents should be aware of when thinking of estate planning is the will.

The will lays out in detail one's wishes in regards to asset division after death. This allows loved ones to have a very clear understanding of exactly what to do with properties and makes for a smooth transition of ownership. Then, there is the living will, also known as the health care proxy. A living will makes known what a person's wishes are -- wishes involving health care, that is -- should they fall into an unconscious or terminal state in which they cannot make their own decisions.

Both documents are important for anyone hoping to take care of loved ones after death. Without them, a person's family can left with a lot of extra stress at an already difficult time.

Source: Nevada Business, "A Primer on Estate Planning: Be Prepared," Norman Bell, Dec. 2, 2013

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