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Broke and young? Estate planning is still smart

Many people throughout Florida, and the rest of the United States, need clarification on what an estate truly is. When many people hear the term estate planning, they think of a practice only tended to by the wealthy or elderly. After all, wealthy individuals have many assets to account for, while similarly, some elderly individuals have accumulated assets throughout the course of their lives.

While the elderly and wealthy do tend to have larger estates, even a broke college kid with assets like a bank account or automobile has an estate on his or her hands. Even though this is a more modest estate than those of the wealthy or elderly, it still requires thoughtful planning to ensure its safety.

The best part of estate planning for people in this boat -- generally those who are young and single with limited assets -- estate planning generally has nominal costs and will still serve its purpose. Plus, simple estate planning for this demographic is of the utmost importance.

For example, something happens to a young, single individual and he or she is not able to make medical or financial decisions. That person's parents cannot immediately step in. They will have to spend a lot of money earning the right to do so in court. Even if that person is married, their spouse may have to go through the same process unless there is valid power of attorney in place that designates them for those duties.

Setting up a trust, another estate planning tool, helps assets skip over probate court where they could be heavily taxed. This assures those assets are passed along to loved ones, fully intact. The bottom line is, if you are an adult without an estate plan, it is better to get one started sooner than later.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Carissa Giebel column: Everyone needs estate planning," Carissa Giebel, Dec. 27, 2011

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