Delaware residents who have lost the hard drive on their computer are familiar with the sinking feeling that accompanies such an experience. Questions suddenly arise about how thorough users were in their contingency planning. In a similar fashion, persons wanting to make sure they leave an organized set of financial affairs with their intended beneficiaries will need to back up their efforts with a completed and fully documented estate plan.

However, according to a 2012 survey, less than 60 percent of baby boomers and less than 30 percent of people under 35 have taken the time to prepare a will. Should a catastrophe occur, their estates will be decided under state intestate laws that may or may not carry out the final wishes of the decedent. Those who do prepare a will, though, name an executor who they want to handle their affairs and make sure their estate is properly divided.

By doing proper estate planning, many of the assets can be passed along to the intended recipients outside of the will or probate process. This usually involves establishing a trust. Other legal instruments that often prove beneficial include a durable power of attorney and a living will. A durable power of attorney gives an authorized individual decision making power on behalf of a person who is no longer able to make decisions for themselves due to health reasons.

Although most people know exactly who they want to inherit their estate, procrastination and inadequate planning can result in unexpected events, such as an unintended person receiving a significant share of the estate. Anyone who wants to make sure their estate plan is solid and current may want to get the advice of an attorney who has experience in wills and estate planning.

Source: TIME, “How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive“, Lazetta Rainey Braxton , August 18, 2014

Source: TIME, “How Writing a Will Is Like Backing Up Your Hard Drive“, Lazetta Rainey Braxton , August 18, 2014