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What should you know when you get started on estate planning?

If there is one thing that Pennsylvania residents can agree upon when it comes to estate planning, it is that the whole process can be somewhat of a mystery. Where do you start? What estate planning documents are right for you? Is it so bad to die without a will? All of these questions are completely understandable. But, it is best to start at the beginning. So, where do Pennsylvania residents start when it comes to estate planning?

Well, the first step is understanding that, no matter what you think of your assets or finances situation, it is best to have an estate plan. Many surveys and studies suggest that the majority of American adults still haven't reached this point. In fact, it has been reported that an estimated 60 percent of adults in America do not have any type of estate planning documents. With no estate plan, the law of the state in which you reside at the time of death determines how your assets are distributed.

Once you understand that it is essential to have an estate plan, the next step is to resist the urge to go the "do-it-yourself" route. Estate planning deals with your most valuable assets: a home, bank and retirement accounts, cars and other valuable personal property. The importance of estate planning means that Pennsylvania residents are best served when they seek out an experienced estate planning attorney to help them prepare a plan.

Lastly, it is important to realize that a comprehensive estate plan includes more than just a will that designates "who will receive what" upon death. A comprehensive estate plan should also include power of attorney and living will documents and, perhaps, some type of trust. If you have question regarding your estate plan and where to start, don't hesitate to contact an estate planning attorney who can address your concerns.

Source: Forever Young, "Estate Planning," Rebecca Cuthbert, Accessed Sept. 4, 2017

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