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Publication #FAR7514

The Importance of Estate Planning1

Carol Church2

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It’s always difficult to think about our own mortality. Still, making advance arrangements for the distribution of your estate is truly important. Taking care of these matters now will save your loved ones confusion and stress in the long run.

First, open the conversation with your family. Though this may be hard at first, it’s important to let them know that you are making a plan. Now, consider your priorities. Who do you want to benefit from your estate and why? How might you best manage things to lighten the burden for your family? (Turner & Gillen, 2011).

Move on to putting your wishes in writing. Experts strongly advise consulting professionals, such as a financial planner and an attorney, when planning your estate. Although online advice and planning kits are available, they may not be up to date and may overlook important state law variations. And certain people, like business owners, may need more specialized advice (Turner & Gillen, 2011).

When your plan is complete, keep one copy at home and one in a safe deposit box. But don’t just put it away and forget about it. Review this information often, making alterations as needed if family situations change. And make sure key family members know where these documents are located and have access to them (Turner & Gillen, 2011).

Many people put off estate planning, wanting to avoid this difficult subject or thinking they are “too young, too healthy, or don’t have enough money to worry about an estate plan” (Turner & Gillen, 2011, p. 1). Don’t wait. Estate planning is a final and important gift to your loved ones.

Listening, learning, and living together: it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension and the UF Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at, or find Family Album Radio on Facebook.

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 Turner, J., & Gillen, M. (2011). Estate planning: Getting started. Retrieved from



This document is FAR7514 one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date March 9, 2012, as program 1882. Published on EDIS March 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.