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October is National Estate Planning Month

Fall has finally arrived, and with it National Estate Planning Awareness month. Each October across the United States, individuals and families are reminded of the importance of creating and/or maintaining an estate plan.

The value of having an estate plan cannot be understated. A plan is necessary to manage one’s accumulated wealth over a lifetime, in turn providing care and support for family members in the years to come. Having an estate plan in place will save your family members both from having to make tough decisions by themselves down the road, and from engaging in the costly probate process.

Three essential estate planning documents everyone needs are a Last Will & Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. An estate plan can also include a Trust. Trusts speak for all matters related to asset distribution and therefore bypass the probate process (when properly funded) entirely, thus saving your beneficiaries thousands of dollars.

If you have not yet created an estate plan, you are not alone. According to the American Bar Association, approximately 64% of adults in America do not have a Last Will and Testament or Trust.

When is the best time to prepare these documents? Now. If you are reading this article today, it means that you are a competent, able adult at the present. Unfortunately, though, none of us know what the future holds. According to the Alzheimer's Association, every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

It is not just elderly individuals that need estate planning though. Having a plan in place is important for people of any age or income status. At a minimum, couples with young children need to designate a guardian in the event of a sudden death in a Last Will and Testament. In addition, you may want a Trust to provide staged distribution provisions for your young children.

Here are the common estate planning mistakes to avoid as you think about your estate plan this month:

  1. Making no last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust

  2. Identifying only one Beneficiary

  3. Not discussing your end-of-life wishes with loved ones

  4. Designating assets that may change or no longer exist at the time of your death

  5. Not accounting for Oregon estate taxes

  6. Never updating your will or trust after making one

  7. Failing to specify legal guardians for your children

There are many local attorneys specializing in Estate Planning that can help ensure that your family is protected and prepared for the future. Feel free to call our office for some resources, if needed.

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