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What is the biggest estate planning blunder?

The biggest estate planning mistake a Florida resident can make is, quite simply, not to plan an estate. Many Americans, whether because of estate planning myths or procrastination, never draft an estate plan before passing. When this happens, family members and loved ones are often left quarreling, unsure of how to divide assets or what healthcare decisions to make. Without an estate plan, there are many benefits that may go unrealized.

One such benefit comes with the drafting of a will. A will contains instructions regarding how a person's assets should be distributed amongst loved ones. It can also detail when loved ones should receive these assets, which can be particularly helpful when there are minor children involved. What's more, a will can have certain provisions that allow parents to designate a guardian for their children. These provisions benefit both the planner of the estate, as well as the planner's loved ones, by ensuring that family members are provided for in a way that conforms to that person's wishes.

A person who plans an estate may have certain wishes involving health care matters as well. These wishes can be addressed in what is known as the living will. The living will is a document in which a person can provide a set of instructions to a health care provider regarding what decisions should be made if that person is in a terminally unconscious state. Without a living will, family members and health care providers may be left guessing.

Estate planning serves to prevent family members from having to guess. A well-prepared estate plan can provide a detailed set of instructions that state, in no uncertain terms, what a person's wishes are. This removes any guess work, leaving both those planning estates, as well as their families, with a peace of mind.

Source: Fox Business, "The Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Make," Kelly Trageser, April 7, 2014

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