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Only a quarter of wealthy people have a complete estate plan

In some cases, those without a lot of assets assume that they don't need an estate plan. Those plans, they believe, are just for the wealthy. They're a way for those with a lot of money and assets to make sure they're divided properly.

However, Scorpio Partnership and RBC Wealth Management carried out a study in 2016, and they found that the vast majority of wealthy people didn't even have complete estate plans. Only 26 percent had all of the different aspects of the plan in place.

For the purpose of the study, a "complete" strategy was one that had a detailed philanthropic mission, a will and an estate plan. Some of those surveyed may have had various pieces in place, but they did not have all three done completely.

In fact, the study found that just over half -- 54 percent -- had already drafted wills. However, even of those 54 percent, most had not done any updating since they first created them. That means the wills could leave assets to people no longer in the family, deal with assets that no longer existed or ignore new assets.

It's estimated that around $3.2 trillion is going to change hands, going from one generation to the next, in the United States alone. This report indicates that around $1.5 trillion of that doesn't have the direction it needs.

The realty is that everyone should have an estate plan of some sort, even with very limited assets, and far too many people fail to put one in place. Make sure you know what to do to ensure your assets are transferred to the next generation properly.

Source: Barron's, "Don’t Delay Estate Planning, for the Sake of Your Heirs," Sonia Talati, Feb. 11, 2017

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