Planning your estate and will: Why to use an attorney

Estate planning might not be something you're thinking about at the moment, particularly if you're young. However, it's important to focus on estate planning eventually, because it helps determine what happens to your possessions if you die.

There have been studies that have shown that around 55 percent of Americans pass away without a will or estate plan. Without this plan, how will your loved ones divide your property? Will your property be fought over? What happens if child custody or other issues are not in your estate plan or will?

If you die without a will, you won't get to decide what happens with your property after your death. You could be forced to follow some heirship laws when you determine who receives what, but without a will, your estate will be handled by the courts alone.

In your will, you can designate things like an executor for your estate or a guardian for your child if you pass away while your child is still a minor. You can make sure your estate is distributed to people like stepchildren or godchildren, who are not normally protected by state intestacy laws.

When you're planning your estate, another thing to remember is that if you have joint accounts with your name and the name of another person, whether for convenience or to make sure that property is transferred to them after your death, the person on that account will own anything that is in the account following your passing. Simple facts like this need to be understood before you plan your estate and will, which is why working with your attorney can help you make the best arrangements.

Source: American Bar Association, "Estate Planning: How to Get Going and Why Not to Do It Yourself," accessed June 03, 2016

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