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Tragic accident proves importance of early estate planning

Individuals in Florida and around the rest of the United States have experienced untimely tragedies and will tell you how important estate planning is. So many people associate estate planning with elderly individuals who must prepare for when their time on earth is through.

Proper estate planning, like the drafting of a will, trust and other documents, is important for men and women of any age. Accidents can strike at any time, leaving people either incapacitated or even dead.

One woman learned this the hard way when her husband was hit while riding his bike. The man eventually died and the woman was left lamenting over the fact that the couple did not follow through on their estate planning chores. They once pulled in a six-figure salary and lived in a big house, but now their financial future was uncertain.

In fact, they drafted wills, but did not sign them. This tragedy led the woman to start a website that reminds people similar to her to get their act together when it comes to estate planning before it is too late. The site serves as a reference and provides tools needed to concoct an efficient estate plan.

While her site is unique, and used by many, there are a number of existing sites that offer similar services, making estate planning easier than it ever has been before. However, those looking to take a stab at estate planning on their own do run the risk of committing errors they likely would not have under the guide of a qualified attorney.

According to a 2011 study conducted by Rocket Lawyer, 57 percent of adult men and women in the U.S. do not have wills. Men and women between the ages of 45 and 64 are a key demographic of offenders. Within this group, 44 percent do not have wills.

Too many people wait for a wake-up call when it comes to estate planning. When they receive it, generally, it's too late. Basic estate planning can be done now and with little cost.

Source: The New York Times, "A Shocking Death, a Financial Lesson and Help for Others," Ron Lieber, Jan. 11, 2013

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