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Estate planning can begin with a conversation with a loved one

Though Thanksgiving is in the rear-view window, we still have much to be thankful for, including children, loving spouses, good jobs, comfortable homes, wonderful weather here in Brevard County and so on. One of the things that people are grateful for at this time of year is the opportunity they have to share their wealth with their loved ones.

Unfortunately, news sources report that a recent survey indicates that fewer than half of American adults have a will or have established a trust or otherwise made use of available estate planning tools.

National Public Radio (available in Melbourne on WFIT-FM) reports that the survey by Caring.com shows that less than half of us have sat down with an estate planning attorney to make sure that our assets are distributed according to our wishes when we pass on.

"It's really a delicate topic," said CBS News' Jill Schlesinger. The host of "Jill on Money" says "the first step is to open a conversation" with a loved one about a will or a trust. Or you could simply ask them how they imagine assets will one day be distributed.

Some folks have perhaps paid a visit to a lawyer at some point, but "a lot of people haven't touched their initial estate planning documents in decades," Schlesinger said. She said in that first conversation with a son or daughter, for instance, you don't really need to be concerned about walking away afterwards with a completed will, but rather a plan of action.

After talking things over, you could well have information needed to outline a last will and testament. You could also understand how a power of attorney might benefit you, your spouse and the rest of your family in certain difficult circumstances.

Schlesinger says that if you die without a will, "the state determines who gets what." Not you. Not your spouse. Not your children. The state of Florida will decide what happens to your assets, and that is undoubtedly one of the best reasons to sit down with an experienced, cost-effective estate planning attorney.

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