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Pastors are unlikely to have adequate estate plans

Most people in Georgia who have attended a funeral understand how familiar pastors are with the reality of death. After speaking at so many funerals and attending to terminally ill church members, one might assume that pastors are more likely than most other professionals to have estate plans in place. According to a recent survey, that simply is not the case.

According to a study done by the Southern Baptist Convention, pastors of all age groups are consistently procrastinating when it comes to getting wills, healthcare directives and other estate planning essentials in place. The vast majority of survey respondents were aware that having end of life and estate plans in place makes things easier for loved ones left behind, but that had not prompted them to make essential arrangements.

Pastors under the age of 44 were most likely to have neglected their estate plans, but older demographics were making the same mistakes in high numbers. Of pastors approaching retirement age in the 55-64 age group, just 54 percent had a will and only 25 percent had a healthcare directive. This older group represents the only demographic in which a majority has a will. The lack of planning for end-of-life decisions can cost loved ones the time and expense of probate court and could lead to additional taxes being paid from an estate.

The need for estate planning is not exclusive to clergy although their regular close encounters with grieving loved ones makes their lack of planning surprising. Death is often unforeseen with regard to timing, and having basic plans in place can be of tremendous benefit to surviving loved ones. Consulting a qualified estate planning lawyer may bring the peace of mind that comes with knowing arrangements are in place and loved ones can experience an easier transition after death.

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