2005-06-02 / Business & Finance

Protecting Your Family And Your Assets Too

(NAPSA)-There are ways to be certain your assets are passed down to the people you want to receive them and usually, where there’s a way, there’s a will. However, 58 percent of Ameri-cans lack a basic will, according to a recent survey and experts say that lack of preparedness could cost their loved ones.

“A will is generally the first document considered in an estate plan. An estate plan not only ensures that your property eventually winds up where you want it to, but it can relieve your loved ones of the burden of having to make difficult financial and medical decisions for you, if you are physically or mentally unable to do so yourself,” explains Alan Kopit.

Kopit is the legal editor of lawyers.-com, a free online database of 440,000 lawyers from LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans have no living will or medical directive and just 27 percent have created powers of attorney for their health care. Only 26 percent have powers of attorney for finances. Living wills and medical directives explain an individual’s wishes for receiving life support or medical treatment. Granting powers of attorney gives a person or organization permission to make health care and financial decisions for you, if you no longer can. Kopit says not having one of these plans in place can sometimes cost families significant money or force them to make difficult health care decisions.

Twenty-one percent of Americans without an estate plan say their biggest reason for not having one is lack of sufficient assets. Fifteen percent say they are not old enough. “It’s an ab-solute myth that age or amount of assets should be the central impetus for making an estate plan,” explains Kopit. “Even a single young person with modest possessions may want to control where his or her assets end up. People should ask themselves: ‘Do I want to control where my assets eventually go, or do I want the state to decide for me?’ If you want control, you’d be well served to consult with an attorney to start estate planning.”

Among those with estate plans, 25 percent said their biggest motivation for creating one was the arrival of or preparation for children. “No parent should be without an estate plan,” says Kopit. “Among other things, a plan will define guardianship for minor children if something happens to the parent.”

For more information, visit www.law-yers.com.

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