Denver, CO (PressExposure) June 05, 2006 -- Young people just starting out in life may think that estate planning is not a high priority. However, according to a leading expert in the field, it's never too early to consider how vital this step is to prudent financial planning. Ronald Hudkins of AssetProtectNow.com offers advice on the subject.
"When just starting out, perhaps there are more worries about the immediate needs," Hudkins said. "Eventually, goals blossom into actually preparing for the future and a comfortable living standard. The idea of immortality is more the thought than any possibility of death. With the longer life spans enjoyed in these modern days, there just may be some benign measure of reality there. However, writing a will is not just a concern for seniors, the young and everyone in between; it is a legal matter, which must be an important part of financial planning."
The state probate process is one solid reason to complete a will, according to Hudkins. In rough terms, as much as 6% of an individual's total (gross) assets (or more) go to probate fees and associated costs.
"The last thing someone would want to do is lose control of their assets to the court system," Hudkins said. "Unfortunately, putting off what you know needs to be done now - planning and implementing an estate plan - could result in just that."
Asset distribution laws vary from state-to-state, but generally a married person's possessions go first to the spouse and children, should there be any.
"If you are single, then most often your possessions would be passed to your parents, if they are still alive," Hudkins said. "Should your parents be deceased, then the order of succession is usually to the siblings (brothers, sisters), then to other living family (relatives) and finally, to the state. The state is highly capable of absorbing and liquidating assets.
"By no means is it being said that various wills are the answer to a complete estate plan. A will alone, specifically will not control who gets 'joint property' (such as a home you and a spouse purchased together), or possibly, bank and brokerage accounts and 401(k)s or IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) for which you have designated a beneficiary."
Simply put, a last will and testament is the main piece of a basic estate plan that does not require a substantial amount of legal fees for its creation.
"Putting together a well-thought-out plan that provides for you during incapacity as well as after your death is essential," Hudkins said. "Talk to an estate planning attorney about other legal documents such as a Medical Power of Attorney (proxy) for Health Care, a Living Will (Health Care Declaration), and a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Affairs.
"You are never too young to need a will. If you end up in a hospital in a coma, you need someone in a position to make personal, medical and financial decisions for you. Should you have an untimely death, the key to planning ahead is to have a written plan so your wishes will be carried out exactly as you so designate. Without a written plan, there is probate, family feuds, extended agonies and other unpleasant possibilities."