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Create a comprehensive estate plan to help your loved ones

Every adult should have an estate plan in place so that their loved ones know their wishes. While many people might think that this is going to be a difficult task, it's better to think about these things now than it is to force your family to try to make decisions while they're still dealing with your passing.

Some aspects of estate planning are necessary before you pass away. These are your living will and the power of attorney designations. The living will outlines your wishes for medical care. You can name a power of attorney over your medical care. This person will make decisions on your behalf if the matter isn't covered in the living will. You can also name a power of attorney over your finances. This person handles all money matters for you. These end-of-life measures don't go into effect unless you are considered legally incompetent to make your own decisions.

You also need to write out your will and establish trusts. These are ways to pass assets down to your loved ones after you pass away. There are many different types of trusts, so you'll need to think about the goals you have for your estate and the circumstances of the beneficiary when you determine what type of establish. Another benefit of trusts is that they don't go through the public probate process, so they provide your loved ones with privacy.

Once you have those basics down, you can think about guardianships for minor children. The person you name for this will raise the children if something happens to you and their other parent.

Finally, write out your letter of instruction. While this isn't a legal document, it is a place for you to leave special directions and important information for your family members. You can include things like information about online accounts and directions for your funeral.

Be sure that all your documents are handled in a legal manner, so they can be upheld by the court if necessary.

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