Where there’s a will: The importance of estate planning

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Many parents in KELOLAND, too busy raising their families, often don’t look decades down the road to when they’re no longer around. More than half of all adults in the country haven’t bothered to draw-up a will.

Musical legend Prince died back in 2016 without a will, and the courts are still sorting out who will receive his massive fortune. You’re estate might not measure up to Prince’s, but you still need to have a plan in place for the benefit of your heirs.

First National Bank trust officer Nancy Wahlstrom is grateful her parents in-law had the foresight of estate planning decades ago, otherwise, they could have faced financial ruin as they aged and their health declined.

“When people age, people try to take advantage of old people and sometimes they get caught up in that. And that did happen, there were some issues and we were able to immediately step in and stop everything,” Wahlstrom said.

Unfortunately, not everyone has that financial safety net in place. Too many people are estate planning procrastinators.

“I think some people are afraid to do it. They’re suspicious, or they think it’s going to cost too much or they just don’t get around to it. Life is busy and we’re all going to do it sometime in the future, but not tomorrow,” Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith attorney Sarah Richardson Larson said.

Even if you do have an estate plan in place, every five years you should review it to see if any changes need to be made.

“Your children grow up, the people you named to be in charge may no longer be the right people. Your assets change, tax laws change,” Richardson Larson said.

If you die without a will, state law determines who gets what. And it may not be what you intended.

“I’ve always said everyone has a will whether you drafted it or not. The State of South Dakota or any state that you live in is going to draft a will for you and it’s going to say if you leave nothing to tell us otherwise, this is the way it’s going to go,” Wahlstrom said.

It turns out, younger parents are often better at estate planning than older people, because they have to name a guardian for their children.

A basic estate plan can cost between $750 and $1,000.

You can find a certified estate planner by going to the National Association of Estate Planners website

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