BOSTON (CBS) – According to a Rocket Lawyer survey, 64% of Americans don’t have a will. Of those, 27% said there isn’t an urgent need, and 15% said they don’t need one at all.

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Estate planning is an important part of your overall financial plan. How do you want your assets, your belongings, distributed when you die? And who should get them? If you have accumulated a large number of assets what do you do with them? And if you have young kids, who will take care of them if something should happen to you?

Should you leave everything to your kids when you die? Maybe? Bill Gates isn’t planning to do that and Warren Buffet agreed giving most of his assets away to charity. Mark Zuckerberg joined them pledging 99% of his assets to a charitable foundation. Sam Walton of Wal-Mart stores also chose not to leave all of his millions to the kids.

Many parents of adult children have legitimate concerns about what the money could do to the kids. You can’t pass along values and work ethics with an inheritance.

You may want to give away some of your estate while you are alive so you can enjoy seeing the results of your gifts. I like this option the best.

But only give away what you don’t need. I have spoken with families where the kids think mom is loaded after dad dies. Little do they know that there was no life insurance, dad’s pension died with him, and now there is only one Social Security check coming in.

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Be honest with your kids about what you have and where you want it to go. Also be equitable in giving it away, unless one of the kids really is a pain in the butt and does not deserve anything. You don’t want your kids fighting over your money after you are gone.

Some experts advise when splitting your assets among your children that you consider a child that is doing very well may not need as much as a child who is not. That may very well be true, but don’t do it!

Dole it out equally. The child that did well often worked very hard for that success and should not be penalized for succeeding.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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