'It doesn't have to be difficult:' How to get started with estate planning

Estate planning worksheet
Posted at 2:22 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 07:38:44-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It's something we should all do, but many of us never get around to -- estate planning.

An estimated 60 percent of Americans don't have a plan in place.

"There are a lot of reasons that comes about, but mostly people just don't have any incentive," said Patrick Hicks with Trust & Will, an online estate planning company. "That leads them to have no plan in place, and they overlook the fact that it doesn't have to be so difficult."

Since April is Financial Literacy Month, this is a good time to get started.

Hicks says to begin by thinking about what's important to you, such as what would happen to young kids or family members you support.

After that, look into options for getting your plan in place legally.

You can go to an attorney, use online sites such as Trust & Will and even get more information from your local library.

Hicks says one of the most common questions people have about estate planning is the differences between trusts and wills. While a will is cheaper, Hicks says it's more basic and has one main disadvantage.

"The key difference for most people is that a trust avoids probate," Hicks said.

Trusts can also give you more control over when and how assets are distributed, which is helpful if you have young kids.

Either way, Hicks says it's important to have a plan.

"It's hard to think about all the things that could go wrong, but the great way to approach it is, think about what is the legacy you want to leave? If something were to happen to you, how would you want to set up your family to succeed in the future? And think about it from a more positive lens," said Hicks.