A will is one component of an estate plan. Although necessary to direct the distribution of assets after death, almost 70 percent of U.S. adults do not have wills. Many people think they do not need a will because they do not have many assets, or they think that preparing a will costs too much. Dying without a will is called dying "intestate" and means that state and federal regulations will determine the distribution of assets. A carefully written legal will, however, provides for family and others in a manner consistent with a person's desires.
In addition, a variety of other important legal documents make up an estate plan and can protect assets and ensure that financial strategies and health care decisions are made prior to death. These documents include: General Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. These documents are best completed before a crisis occurs.
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