Trusts & Estates

Rest Easy: Plan for the Inevitable

Although lots of folks say they intend to plan for the inevitable, most don’t.

Some 70 percent of Americans die without making a will or any other arrangement for distributing assets after their deaths—although, in some cases, that makes sense, reports the Los Angeles Times in a detailed article discussing estate planning options.

“You have to confront the fact that you’re not going to be around. That’s not a comfortable thing to think about,” notes Eleanor Barkelew, 69, a resident of Torrance, Calif., who did face up to the need for estate planning after she married for the second time. “I have a lot of friends who are even older than I am, who keep saying they’ve really got to take care of these things. I’m afraid something is going to happen to them before they do.”

For those without a lot of family issues, dying without a will may not be a problem because state law apportions the money among blood relations. But when there are multiple marriages, as in Barkelew’s case, or feuding relatives, a will can be critical. Another option, too, that may be appropriate is avoiding probate by putting assets in trust, the newspaper notes.

Meanwhile, two other simple steps can help make the situation a lot easier for relatives and survivors: signing an appropriate power of attorney for health care, and making a list of assets.

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