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10 Steps to Getting Started on Your Estate Planning

Despite the fact that estate planning is a crucial step in creating a secure financial future, the majority of us put it off as long as possible, some equating the act of creating an estate plan with having a root canal. In reality, working with your Virginia estate planning attorney is not painful at all. You can either hide your head in the sand and hope for the best, or you can plan, and rest easy knowing your wishes will be carried out in the event you become incapacitated or you die.

When you choose to avoid thinking about estate planning, your beneficiaries can be hit with significant costs, it can take a longer time to probate your will, your true wishes may never be known, and those you love can suffer unnecessary problems and heartache. Many people still believe estate planning is only for the very rich, but anyone who has any assets at all—pretty much everybody—should have basic estate planning documents. If you are ready to begin estate planning, the following steps will help guide you through the process:

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What Do Wills Not Do?

While there are many advantages to having a will, there are some things a will simply can’t do. As an example, a will is the perfect document for parents with minor children to designate a guardian for your children, minimizing court intervention. A will is also the right estate document to designate an executor of your estate. You can also, through a will, choose to provide for specific persons who would not otherwise be provided for under Virginia state intestacy laws, such as friends, godchildren or stepchildren.

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What Happens if a Person Dies Without a Will in the State of Virginia?

People avoid having a will prepared for many reasons. Perhaps the most common reason people put off having a will prepared is simply because they don’t think they need it. People who avoid making a will for this reason probably believe they don’t have all that many assets, so the state of Virginia can reasonably be expected to divvy up those assets as they see fit. Other reasons people tend to put off having a will prepared is because they think it is complicated or too expensive or they don’t want to face their own mortality.

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Essential Estate Planning Checklist

Having an estate plan is extremely important, yet the majority of American adults don’t even have a simple will. Some 39 percent of adult men feel like having an estate plan is simply not necessary, while 26 percent of women believe it is too costly. Those who consider themselves Republicans are more likely to have an estate plan (46 percent of all registered Republicans do have some type of estate plan), while only 37 percent of Democrats have an estate plan. Almost a full third of Americans would rather give up sex for a month, do their taxes or get a root canal than to engage in estate planning. Aside from feeling an estate plan is either not necessary or too expensive, other common reasons given for not having an estate plan include:

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