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If your parents' estate plan was ineffectual, learn from that

Did your mother, father or both parents manifestly ignore all important dimensions of estate planning to such a point that you and other surviving loved ones went through a flatly stressful -- as well as time-consuming and expensive -- ordeal to properly attend to administration matters?

If so, take heart. That was a good thing.

OK, that's being a bit facetious, but the point is this: You likely learned from your parents' failure to engage in timely and purposeful estate planning that neglect in this area can lead to painful consequences. Perhaps you have vowed not to make the same mistakes.

That's the pep talk you would get from one financial planner who recently penned an article for baby boomers regarding estate administration.

His advice: "Look at your parents' plan and where it was lacking and use your experience to fix your own estate plans."

Empirical evidence strongly suggests that there is a widespread and dire need for many boomers to do just that.

Consider this: Reportedly, more than half of Americans aged 55-64 have never even executed a will. If they never do, the result will be that their estate will be administered through the court-driven -- and quite public -- process of probate. As the above article notes, a probate outcome can leave a family "with huge tax bills" and other unanticipated consequences.

Other notable areas where lack of estate planning is often seen include a failure to provide for funeral expenses and health care costs in old age.

The bottom line for purposes of this post is an underscoring of the fact that obvious shortcomings in planning demonstrated by one's parents can sometimes have silver linings, if they are used as a catalyst for ensuring more careful planning engaged in by surviving family members.

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