Reasons to have an estate plan.

75% of the population thinks that estate plans are not necessary. They are too young or don't have enough money to reap the tax benefits of a plan. However, estate planning is for everyone, regardless of age or net worth:

1. Loss of capacity. If you are unable to manage your own affairs, the Courts will pick one for you.

2. Minor children. Who will raise your children if you die? Without a plan, a court will make that decision.

3. Dying without a will. Who will inherit your assets? Without a plan, your assets pass to your heirs according to your state's laws of intestacy (i.e. people you may not want.)

4. Blended families. Without a plan, children from different marriages may not be treated as you would wish.

5. Children with special needs. Without a plan, a child with special needs risks being disqualified from receiving Medicaid or SSI benefits, and may have to use his or her inheritance to pay for care.

6. Keeping assets in the family. Would you prefer that your assets stay in your own family?

7. Financial security. Will your spouse and children be able to survive financially?

8. Retirement accounts. Do you have an IRA or similar retirement account? Without a plan, your designated beneficiary for the retirement account funds may not reflect your current wishes and may result in burdensome tax consequences for your family.

9. Business ownership. Do you own a business? Without a plan, you don't name a successor, thus risking that your family could lose control of the business.

10. Avoiding probate. Without a plan, your estate may be subject to delays and excess fees (depending on the state), and your assets will be a matter of public record.

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